Starting July 1, Dr. Lana Ray, Assistant Professor in Indigenous Learning, will begin her appointment as Lakehead University’s Indigenous Research Chair in Decolonial Futures.
This position, the first of its kind at Lakehead, forwards the University’s vision to strengthen research that is grounded in Indigenous knowledges and culturally appropriate methodologies.
Dr. Ray, an Anishinaabe scholar from Opwaaganasiniing (Red Rock Indian Band), brings to this appointment over a decade of experience working with Indigenous peoples and communities to implement Indigenous community-based approaches to research.
She has been recognized internationally for her scholarship and has been a strong voice within Ontario for the advancement of Indigenous education.
“Universities must extend their role in reconciliation beyond truth-seeking and public education to actively supporting processes of decolonization and Indigenous self-determination,” Dr. Ray said. “The newly-created Lakehead University Indigenous Research Chairship program is an example of what reconciliation can look like if it is foregrounded in the latter.”
“As the inaugural Indigenous Research Chair, I will be provided with the resources I need to carry out research within my own territory as an Anishinaabe ikwe, who privileges Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, serves the interests of Anishinaabe communities, and forwards decolonial futures,” she said.
Dr. Ray said decolonial futures are those in which “Anishinaabe people can proudly and freely live our knowledge systems and enact our sacred responsibilities.”
She will engage in parallel projects of addressing colonial influences over Indigenous lives and enacting Indigenous ways of knowing and being within the fields of health and education.
Through the Chairship, Dr. Ray will forward her research on relationships with the land, Indigenous traditional economies and traditional healing in Northwestern Ontario, anti-racism and cultural safety in health care, and work toward the recognition of Indigenous knowledges and experience in the admissions and credential processes at post-secondary institutions.
Additionally, in acknowledgement of the ongoing and vital role of Indigenous ways of knowing and self-determination to a decolonizing agenda, Dr. Ray will continue to develop projects that strengthen local and international Indigenous research networks, build Indigenous research infrastructure, and design Indigenous-driven research standards.
“Over the next five years, I will continue my work to advance Indigenous concepts of health and wellness that emphasize relationships with land and work to rightfully position Indigenous peoples as the keepers and authorities of our own knowledges and experiences,” she said.
Dr. Ray will work collaboratively with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Lakehead International, and the Office of Research Services to advance the activities and strategies associated with Lakehead University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, including the vision of a University-based Centre for Research and Scholarship with an Indigenous and international focus.
The chair position is for a five-year term and may be renewed once.
Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, congratulated Dr. Ray on her selection for this important role.
“Lakehead University is very pleased in the appointment of Dr. Ray as the Indigenous Research Chair in Decolonial Futures,” Dr. Dean said. “She is already an excellent scholar who embraces a community-based approach to her research projects. We really look forward to the research contributions that Dr. Ray will be making over the term of this chair appointment.”