Indigenous community resurgence

In this study, I was interested in looking at what Indigenous health organizations do in urban communities, above and beyond providing health services. These organizations clearly have a role in providing community support, and I wondered if this support might translate into political representation or link to broader political struggles.

I chose the terminology of rights in order to get at this concept, and asked people in interviews and focus groups, —

“Do you feel that your rights are respected in Prince George, in terms of health care services?”

People often said no.

“Indigenous rights” is a colonial term, referencing the Constitution Act and several court decisions over the past forty years.

Focusing on the concept of Indigenous rights has been controversial, with many scholars arguing that “rights” and “recognition” are not actually that useful for Indigenous peoples in Canada. Many of these scholars use the term “resurgence” instead.

Resurgence describes the ways in which Indigenous communities are undertaking political, cultural and legal rebuilding. Resurgence takes place without the intervention of the Canadian state; it is led, supported, and achieved by Indigenous peoples and Indigenous communities.

The role of Indigenous-led health and social service organizations might not be promoting Indigenous rights and recognition through the government – but to provide spaces and mechanisms through which Indigenous community resurgence can be supported in the city.

Visiting Prince George

I will be in Prince George March 20-24. You can reach me at (778)764-1081 with any questions or for more information.

Sadly, our dear friend Leonard Ward passed away last Sunday night. He was a highly respected and loved Elder who worked so hard for the community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Space and Power

Sitting by the window in the library one day, I overheard a sleeping man being woken and in hostile tones being asked to show his student or membership card. He couldn’t, and so was escorted out. At the time I was reading about power and oppression in the guise of colonialism.

The overheard encounter made me think about where I was and who I am – or, maybe more importantly, who I am perceived to be. No one came over to me and asked to see my ID card. Mind you, I wasn’t sleeping. But why is sleeping in a warm place with comfortable couches such an act of transgression? This in turn made me think about place.

Much has been written about doing research “in the field” – about the spaces of research that are out there, in the real world. We read about community engagement, about forming research partnerships and drawing up research agreements and how to conduct yourself as ethically as possible. We read about researchers’ daily struggles with community-based research, whether “cross-cultural” or within one’s own culture. But what about the quiet spaces – the public, private, or policed spaces – that we occupy on a daily basis in preparation to meet the “real world”? I spend more time in my office and in libraries than I will ever spend “in the field.”

These are protected spaces, where I am sheltered from the people I do research with. Where I am encouraged to think, reflect, and engage in dialogue with other academics – exclusively. Where people without a membership card are asked none too politely to leave. What kind of impact does this have on the research that I do?

The past year


Before I come back to posting about the research I’d like to explain my absence from this site for the past several months. When I came to Prince George to do interviews last October I was pregnant. In February of this year I lost the baby. After carrying him for eight months he died, suddenly and inexplicably, in the womb. I don’t have much more to say about it except that I’m sure you can imagine this has affected my progress and process in doing this research. I will be back to Prince George as soon as I can manage. And I wanted to honour him here by telling the truth.

Telephone interviews

In-person interviews in Prince George have finished for now. Still interested in participating?

You can participate by phone or email, just let me know and we can schedule a time.

Interviews with health care providers and staff would be particularly welcome.

Call or email me at:

Sarah Nelson


Focus group for health care providers and Elders, October 22

We will be holding a focus group at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, October 22 2015, 11am-2pm

If you are a person who:

  • Is over the age of 18
  • Lives in Prince George
  • Works in, or in collaboration with, Aboriginal health services in the city

You are invited to participate in this focus group, that will ask about:

  • Aboriginal health and social services
  • How these services may contribute to a sense of community in the city
  • How a sense of community in the city may contribute to Aboriginal rights for urban Aboriginal peoples.

What to expect?

The group will take about three hours of your time, and lunch will be provided. Bus tickets are available, and child care costs can be reimbursed as needed.


For more information:

Sarah Nelson, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto


Interviews October 14-30

I am available to hold one-on-one interviews from October 14 until October 30. They are open to people of Aboriginal or Indigenous identity who use health care services in Prince George, or to people of any background who work in, or in collaboration with, Aboriginal health services in Prince George.

Please contact me if you’re interested in participating!

Sarah Nelson


Coming to Prince George

I am coming to Prince George in September/October to conduct interviews and focus groups. If you are interested in participating, you are eligible if you are a person who:

  • Is over the age of 18
  • Identifies as First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Aboriginal or Indigenous
  • Lives in Prince George
  • Has received health services in Prince George


  • Is over the age of 18
  • Lives in Prince George
  • Works in, or in collaboration with, Aboriginal health services in the city

See the interviews and focus groups pages of this site for more information – and stay tuned for dates and times!