"I chose SFU to complete my undergraduate degrees in anthropology and communications because I heard rumours about a rockstar faculty. I had such a great experience that I decided to continue on and do my masters at SFU as well, and I can certainly say that I have never felt more recognized, valued, and supported as I do here."

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Student Profile: Elizabeth Danis

March 28, 2022
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Anthropology master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

I grew up in Haisla territory on the northern coast where snow and fishing boats are abundant. I am Iroquois Metis, a French/German settler, and mother to the brightest little 7yr old. I spend my spare time exploring the intricacies of life with my son, helping food grow in our little urban garden, foraging in the mountains, and playing my banjo terribly. I fell in love with anthropology about 11 years ago in Chiclayo, Peru where I took part in a shamanic healing ceremony for a friend. We happened to be with an anthropologist too. Her ability to teach us uninformed backpackers about cultural relativity and respect, moment by moment as foreign concepts and aspects of the ceremony arose, it captivated and enticed me, pulling me into a forever dance with Indigenous healing practices, politics, anthropology, and the vibrant and elusive communication between all of these things.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I began my studies at the University of Calgary, but the westcoast is home and it called me back... the ocean, the mountains, my community and giant family. I chose SFU to complete my undergraduate degrees in anthropology and communications because I heard rumours about a rockstar faculty. Their knowledge and expertise, commitment to the academic and professional success of students, and emphasis on decolonizing methodologies and experiential learning. I had such a great experience that I decided to continue on and do my masters at SFU as well, and I can certainly say that I have never felt more recognized, valued, and supported as I do here.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

It is well known in my family that settler-colonialism has produced culturally unsafe healthcare and racist health policies. The Canadian healthcare system itself is a key determinant of ill health for Indigenous peoples across the nation. Calls for excising racism from healthcare are being answered with, among other things, Indigenous-led healthcare initiatives. My research is gaining insight into how two of these successful initiatives in so-called Vancouver work together to provide culturally safe access to healthcare, and in what ways might they become a lighthouse of best practices for other Indigenous-led initiatives globally. The pandemic has exposed the systemic roots of raging health inequities facing Indigenous peoples, made clear that profound realignment is needed, and is a prime moment to push forward agendas to decolonize healthcare globally. I am here to help make that happen.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The last two years have been such a difficult time for everyone. Things that might not have been so hard during non-pandemic times are now intersecting with varying aspects of the pandemic to create a superstorm of potential barriers and setbacks, not just in academia. SFU has been incredibly aware of this, and supportive, which has helped ease the stress of studying while doing life during a lengthy traumatic global event.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I was invited to accept a Graduate Fellowship for Fall of 2021. To have my abilities and potential as an academic and a researcher be recognized on behalf of the anthropology faculty at SFU feels really good, and uplifted any clouds of lingering self-doubt I may have had when deciding to embark on this journey. This award has also helped ease the financial constraints of growing my brain and my beautiful son at the same time. I am forever grateful.

 

Contact : edanis@sfu.ca

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