Dorothy Christian

Associate Director, Indigenous Policy & Pedagogy

PhD, Dept. of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia
MA, School of Communications, Simon Fraser University
BA, University of Toronto

Provides support for Indigenous graduate students to demystify grad school and also works to strengthen, support and collaborate with Indigenous focused projects to support reconciliation and decolonization practices at the graduate level.

Dorothy Cucw-la7 Christian is Secwepemc and Syilx from the interior plateau regions of what is known as British Columbia.  She is happy to be a good relative to her Coast Salish cousins while she lives, works, and plays on their lands.  Her research centralizes land, story, cultural protocols and how Indigenous Knowledge informs and guides interrelationships with Canadian Settler society.  Her curiosity in how cultural knowledge influences Indigenous production practice started when she was working for the national broadcaster VisionTV to bring Indigenous stories to the national screen. This prompted her to enroll in graduate school.

Another interest is how Indigenous peoples can have a peaceful coexistence with Settler Canadians who populate their ancestral homelands.  This is more than an “interest” because Dorothy sees and experiences this quest as critical to the survival of the planet. Dorothy became passionate about exploring the possibilities of transforming the status quo after her involvements in Indigenous communications behind the scenes at the so-called 1990 OKA crisis on Haudenosaunee lands and the 1995 Gustafsen Lake standoff on Secwepemc territories. Her trajectory of study to finding ways to live together started long before equity, diversity, inclusion and intercultural became the latest buzz words in academia.  

While she writes scholarly chapters and participates in community on many levels, Dorothy remains involved in the Indigenous visual storytelling culture in Canada.  She serves as a Board member of the Indigenous Screen Office in Toronto and has curated programs for the 2018 and 2019 ImagineNative film festival, the largest Indigenous film festival in the world.    

At GPS Dorothy Cucw-la7 strives towards making academic life less stressful for Indigenous MA and PhD students/candidates by collaborating with the Indigenous Student Services and other student-centered departments.  She is new to her role in GPS and is investigating the myriad of intersections within the university that can be decolonized or indigenized to enrich the graduate student experience.  She continues to be a part of other Indigenous centered projects such as Michelle Pidgeon’s RESPECT project, which will impact the SFU experience for staff and faculty at SFU.

Learn more about Dorothy from People of SFU


Christian, D., (2022 Forthcoming).  Chapter, “The Reconciliation That Never Was” in Working Title, After Redress.  Miki, R., McAllister, K.E., and Oikawa, M. (Editors). UBC Press

Christian, D., (2021) Chapter, “Taking a Stand:  Privileging Indigenous Knowledge” in Academic Well-Being of Racialized Students, B. Bunjun (Ed.), Fernwood Publishing

Christian, D., Medel, S., Mazawi, A. “Talking In/Talking Out:  Indigenous Knowledge, Filmmaking and The Decolonizing Poetics of Visual Sovereignty”:  A Conversation With Dr. Dorothy Christian.  Post-Colonial Directions in Education, Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2019.

Christian, D. Curatorial Essay (2019), Dawsoma:  Making Meaning – A Retrospective of Victor Masayesva, Jr.’s film works, Vtape in collaboration with 2019 ImagineNative Film Festival, Toronto, Ontario.  Essay at this link: Imaginative2019_FINALdigital.pdf

Christian, D. “Indigenous Visual Storywork for Indigenous Film Aesthetics” in Decolonizing Research:  Indigenous Storywork as Methodology (2019), J. Archibald, J. Lee-Morgan & J. DeSantolo (editors);

Christian, D.and Wong, R. Editors. (2017) Downstream:  Reimagining Water.  Wilfred Laurier Press.  

Christian, D. and Wong, R. (2013) co-authored Chapter “Unmapping Watershed Mind” in Thinking With Water.  Chen, C., MacLeod, J., Neimanis, A. (Editors).  McGill-Queens University Press.  

Christian, D., (2011) Chapter “Reconciling With the People and the Land” in Cultivating Canada:  Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity. Dewar, J., DeGagné and Mathur, A. (Editors).  Aboriginal Healing Foundation.  

Christian, D. and Freeman, V. (2010) Co-authored chapter “History of a Friendship” in Alliances:  Re/Envisioning Indigenous and non-Indigenous Relationships.  Davis, L. (Editor).  University of Toronto Press.