SFU alumnus and scientist Kyle Bobiwash speaks on the importance of diversity of perspectives and worldviews in research
By Diane Mar-Nicolle
In his academic life, Kyle Bobiwash focuses on understanding the biodiversity of healthy ecosystems, ensuring that land and food production are managed sustainably and profitably. So, it’s not surprising that he proposes that Canada do the same with its Indigenous communities.
A member of the Mississauga First Nation, Bobiwash says, “All the economic/societal success that Canada has experienced has been at the expense of Indigenous sovereignty, their rights, freedom, land, culture, health, lives, etc.”
“Indigenous people are suffering from the historical severity of colonial practices. It’s seen in government’s reluctance to relinquish oversight over territory, hesitancy to engage Indigenous nations as equals, and the many legal and enforcement issues associated with continued colonial attitudes and ideas of hierarchy — children in care, selective provisioning of rights and continued racial profiling.”
- Bobiwash will discuss “Bridging Knowledge Systems in Ecological Research” in this year’s Faculty of Science Indigenous Speaker Series on June 30, 2021 from 12 – 2 p.m. via Zoom. Register here.
Bobiwash, who completed his doctoral research on pollination in SFU’s Department of Biological Sciences, is hopeful that, with a new group of change makers the end of colonialism may be nearing.
He sees hope in the increasingly global push to eradicate the idea that colonialism left an overall positive legacy among Indigenous peoples of colonial countries.
“The idea that Indigenous populations aren't doing as well as the rest of the country because they're not engaged or uninterested is slowly disappearing, and we are realizing that the Canadian system itself and how it is constructed has taken a heavy toll on Indigenous communities.”
That’s the first step he says.
“Once we begin identifying and correcting colonial mechanisms, we can begin to do things differently.”
Some solutions, he says, will be to prioritize issues and for institutions, governments and people to relinquish some of the control and power to allow greater self-determination for Indigenous communities.
Bobiwash says that his involvement with SFU's Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC) helped him to understand the importance of policy development and drove his interest to secure a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Manitoba.
“Being part of the SFU ARC team, gave me exposure to not only work and think about policy development, but also provided me with a better understanding of the institutional barriers and greater societal barriers that might impede progress.”
He adds, “It enabled me to work on better identifying my own positionality and that of institutions all across Canada, giving me a leg up on thinking of how I can play a role in changing this.”