Sarah Wright Cardinal wins Outstanding Dissertation Award


portrait of Sarah Wright Cardinal

Sarah Wright Cardinal


Sarah Wright Cardinal, a Research Associate in the faculty of Education, and recent PhD, was awarded the E. Lisa Panayotidis Outstanding Dissertation Award.

The award, presented by the Canadian Association of Foundations in Education, honours a graduate student whose dissertation improves educational processes in the study of Educational Foundations, or adds to the field’s body of work.

Sarah’s dissertation “Beyond the Sixties Scoop: Reclaiming Indigenous identity, reconnection to place, and reframing understandings of being Indigenous” was the result of her desire to contribute Indigenous knowledge to the academic community.

“I experienced the Sixties Scoop and decided to do a seminal study — the first of its kind —on how Indigenous adults reclaim their identities after being raised away from their families, communities, and nations,” says Sarah. “This cross-disciplinary study explored healing from the Sixties Scoop experience and contributes to a larger dialogue on decolonizing practices, reclaiming Indigenous knowledge systems, and healing from colonial trauma and colonial disruptions to identity.”

Sarah received a three-year Joseph Armand Bombardier SSHRC award for her PhD study, the funds from which allowed her to travel to the communities of seven participants to gather stories. “I was on the road with my two children, ages 8 and 10, for six weeks in summer 2015 visiting and gathering stories,” says Sarah. “We also held a sharing circle later in the fall, to revisit how each participant is healing from the experience of the Sixties Scoop and how they have reclaimed their identities,” she adds.

“I was grateful to receive the CAFE award, and that the awards committee saw my study as relevant because settler-Indigenous relations are foundational to education in Canada,” she says. “We need to be able to look at the colonial history of Canada, and the lasting impacts for Indigenous families today, including contemporary policies and processes, and determine what roles each of us has as educators, practitioners, academics, and students to change this discourse.”

Sarah is currently assisting with an Indigenous Language Revitalization project and developing a Sixties Scoop curriculum for the Legacy of Hope foundation, which will be available as a public resource later this year. She will be returning to UVic this fall to teach Indigenous Studies.