Our people

Our team reflects the diversity of Indigenous identities across Turtle Island and internationally as we identify as Indigenous peoples from: Coast Salish, Vancouver Island; Mi’kmaq, east coast; Turtle Mountain Ojibwethe and Ubuntu, Southern Africa.

Research and teaching faculty

Dr. Devi Dee Mucina

Program Director
Indigenous Governance

Devi Dee Mucina is an Indigenous Ubuntu from the Ngoni and Shona people of southern Africa. He received his PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, department of Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto.

His academic interests are Indigenous African philosophies, decolonizing Indigenous masculinities, Indigenous fathering and other-fathering, and using Ubuntu oralities and disability studies to understand the social memory of Indigenous children.

Office: HSD A260
Dr. Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark

Associate Professor
Indigenous Governance

Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark is Turtle Mountain Ojibwe and an Associate Professor in Indigenous Governance. She is the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement at the University of Victoria. She received her PhD in American Studies and her B.A in American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Her research interests include Indigenous law and governance and Indigenous politics in the United States and Canada. She is the co-editor of Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories with Jill Doerfler and Niigaanwewidam Sinclair and is the co-author of the third and fourth edition of American Indian Politics and the American Political System with Dr. David E. Wilkins. Her research background includes collaborative work with Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada with the aim to advance the development and resurgence of Anishinaabe political structures and institutions that are informed and shaped by Anishinaabe philosophies, values, and teachings. She has also been awarded various SSHRC grants that entail projects examining Anishinaabe law and Governance, Community-Engaged research practices and Indigenous jurisdiction and infrastructure in the wake of extractive industry projects.

Dr. Dawn  Smith

Assistant Professor
Indigenous Governance

Dawn Smith is Nuu-chah-nulth from Ehattesaht, but grew up in W̱SÁNEĆ (Tsawout). She received her EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy from the Faculty of Education and the University of British Columbia.

Her research focus is in Nuu-chah-nulth self-determination, feminism, strict laws of nature and medicines and decolonization. Dr. Smith has the forthcoming publication “Decolonising our futures: Neo-colonial Criminal Injustice and the Mass Imprisonment of Indigenous Women”. She is also the author of “Indigenous Communities in Canada: Nuu-chah-nulth, Beech Street Books”; “Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia” in the European Union and Canada; Chapter 2 “I-witness Holocaust Field School Experiences, Indigenous Peoples, and Reconciliation in Canada”; and co-authored “Building Transdisciplinary Relationship through Multidirectional Memory Work and Education.”

Dr. Gina Starblanket

Associate Professor
Indigenous Governance
Gina Starblanket is Cree and Saulteaux and a member of the Star Blanket Cree Nation in Treaty 4 territory.

She is principal investigator of the SSHRC-funded Prairie Relationality Network, co-author of Storying Violence: Unravelling Colonial Narratives in the Stanley Trial (ARP: 2020), and co-editor of Visions of the Heart: Issues Involving Indigenous Peoples in Canada (OUP: 2019). Gina’s research focuses on Indigenous political life and takes up questions relating to decolonization, gender, Indigenous feminism, treaty implementation, and relationality.
Dr. Hōkūlani  Aikau

Indigenous Governance
Hōkūlani K. Aikau is Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Native Hawaiian).

Dr. Aikau is an interdisciplinary scholar with training in American Studies and Sociology and teaching experience in Political Science, Indigenous Politics, Native Hawaiian Politics, and Pacific Islands Studies. Her research focus is contemporary Native Hawaiian Identity and Politics; Indigenous Resurgence and Climate Change in the Pacific; Indigenous Environmental Justice; Native Feminist Theory; American Race Relations and Food Sovereignty.

Cross-listed faculty

Dr. Robina Thomas

Associate Vice-President Indigenous; Associate Professor (School of Social Work)

Qwul’sih’yah’maht (Robina Thomas) is a member of Lyackson Coast Salish First Nation. She holds a BSW, MSW, and a PhD in Indigenous Governance. Robina is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and is the Executive Director, Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement.

Program staff

Jerahlene Matibag

Program Assistant
Indigenous Governance
Office: HSD A260
Shawna McNabb

Administrative Officer
Indigenous Governance
Office: HSD A260