Dr. Allyson Stevenson (PhD) started in the position of Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis Studies on July 1 in the Department of Indigenous Studies at USask. (Photo: Victoria Kerr)

New research chair to explore ‘unique history’ of the Métis

Dr. Allyson Stevenson (PhD), the holder of the new Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis Studies at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), wants to record the untold story of the Métis in Western Canada.

“It’s a really unique history, a really important history that has yet to be written,” said Stevenson, who began her five-year term as chairholder in the Department of Indigenous Studies on July 1. The Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis Studies is a new position in the USask College of Arts and Science, created in partnership with the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI).

Stevenson plans to gather and study oral histories, scrip records, homestead records and government documents to build a detailed history of 20th-century Métis communities in Western Canada.

She said she hopes to connect with communities across Western Canada and combine their local histories into “a larger Métis story about maintaining our culture, revitalizing our culture, and remaining Métis in the present.”

A crucial transformation in Métis society occurred over the last century. Dispersed and devastated Métis communities re-emerged in Western Canada, changing the political, cultural and intellectual landscape of the country.

Stevenson noted that Métis leaders in Saskatchewan were particularly important to the transformation—something she hopes to understand better through her work in the coming years.

“It appears there is something unique taking place in Saskatchewan that really is fuelling the revitalization of Métis people,” she said.

A Métis scholar with deep family roots in Saskatchewan, Stevenson most recently held the role of Tier II Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples and Global Social Justice at the University of Regina. She earned her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and PhD in history from USask.

During her time as a student in the Department of History, Stevenson said she was fortunate to work with “really exceptional scholars” including Dr. Jim Miller (PhD) and Dr. Valerie Korinek (PhD), who encouraged her to continue in academia.

“Just having that really supportive environment—to be mentored, to be identified as someone with promise—was really transformative for me and just fuelled my desire to continue to pursue history, pursue questions about the past,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson has published articles on the Sixties Scoop and Indigenous women’s political activism, along with histories of Métis resilience and resistance. Her first book, Intimate Integration: A History of the Sixties Scoop and the Colonization of Indigenous Kinship, will be published this summer by University of Toronto Press.

Korinek, who supervised Stevenson’s PhD and is now the College of Arts and Science’s vice-dean of faculty relations, said it was “a privilege” to recruit Stevenson back to USask.

“Watching her take her place on the national and international stage at various conferences over the past few years, it is amazing to see how she has become an emerging leader in her field.”

Stevenson said her approach to the research chair position will be holistic and grounded in her Métis worldview. She plans to collaborate closely with Métis community members, USask researchers and GDI, and hopes to recruit a large cohort of Métis students to contribute to the work.

Stevenson wants to explore ways of sharing her findings beyond traditional academic circles.

“It’s going to be really important to ensure that it’s not just reaching an academic audience, but that it’s reaching a community audience as well,” she said.

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