Indigenous Environmental Projects
Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
My spirit comes from the natural world and from my culture. When I was 19 I had the privilege of being a student of the late Jake Thomas (Cayuga, Six Nations). He introduced me to our stories and teachings.
When we were discussing the Guswentha (the two-row wampum) he told me that I couldn’t navigate the river of life with one foot in the settlers’ boat and one foot in the Hodinohs:ni’ canoe. It was a real turning point in my life and led me to the path I am on today.
At the same time, I was and still am, a student of science. I grew up in Port Dover where my father was a commercial fisherman. After a summer working at the Fisheries Assessment Unit index gillnetting on a research tug, I went off to university planning to become a research scientist. I studied freshwater ecology and did research on lake-spawning brook trout. Then life took me in other directions.
I met a pow-wow singer, we had two children, and moved up north to raise them. My kids are members of the Sagamok Anishnawbek, with family ties to Waskaganish (James Bay, Quebec). My career also went in other directions. I ended up working on contaminated sites, landfills, environmental assessments, and a wide-range of different projects in the broad field of environmental science including regulatory compliance. For me it all circles back to water quality and freshwater ecology, my area of expertise.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for much of my career as an Environmental Scientist serving First Nations. I love science, it is an excellent tool for better understanding our world. Currently, I am completing my Masters in Environmental Science and planning to continue on to PhD research on endangered riverine dragonflies.
I also attend longhouse regularly with my Totah.
Science informs how I see the world, but how I live in the world is informed by Indigenous Knowledge. There is an expression in my culture: Ka'nikonhrí:io, a good mind. I try to apply that in both my professional and personal life: commuting by bicycle, composting, naturalizing my yard, and exploring my watershed identifying dragonflies and butterflies.
Relevant Experience = 25+ Years
-- B.Sc.(Honours), Trent University / MEnvSc (candidate), University of Toronto
-- Volunteer: Technical Advisory Committee – Indigenous Centre for Cumulative Effects; Ontario bioblitzes, dragonfly and butterfly counts
Contact Stephanie Allen