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Sarah Hunt (Social Sciences)

Sarah Hunt / Tłaliłila’ogwa, a member of the the Kwagu’ł tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation in the northern part of Vancouver Island, grew up locally on the Songhees reserve in lək̓ʷəŋən territories. Hunt is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Political Ecology in UVic’s School of Environmental Studies, a prestigious professor position given to Canada’s best and brightest scholars.
ocean view of vancouver island

Most of my research has focused on various kinds of violence—systemic violence, interpersonal and gendered violence, and environmental violence. This work has exposed the problems within Canadian systems of law and governance, and the struggles we still have in trying to achieve justice for Indigenous People.


Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt’s research and teaching are in Indigenous political ecologies and Indigenous and decolonial methodologies, focused at the intersection between gender, law and geography.

Indigenous scholars, activists and communities have advanced a deep interrelation between the governance of Indigenous lands and bodies, calling for research into questions of justice that pushes beyond colonial framings to account for these interconnected scales of life.

Building on her twenty years of community-based research on violence, gender and self-determination, Hunt’s current research focuses on Indigenous peoples’ understandings of justice across the nested scales of lands/waters, homes and bodies. Through the use of collaborative, land-based methodologies, this research seeks to theorize justice via the legal, political and cultural practices of coastal peoples. In particular, Hunt’s work centers the everyday experiences of women, youth, and 2SQ people, applying a gendered lens to remedying Indigenous peoples’ dispossession.

Hunt is Kwagu’ł (Kwakwaka’wakw Nation) and has spent most of her life as a guest in lək̓ʷəŋən territories. Before coming to UVic she was an assistant professor in the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies and Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia.

Hunt is recognized as a leader in the development of innovative approaches to research which center Indigenous worldviews, cultural practices and relationships with the natural world, and she has spoken and written about the ethical, practical and theoretical aspects of decolonizing knowledge.

She has published several dozen scholarly articles, book chapters and peer reviewed reports. Hunt is widely known for her 2014 article ‘Ontologies of Indigeneity: the politics of embodying a concept,’ published in Cultural Geographies, as well as articles in Geography Compass, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, Atlantis, ACME and The Professional Geographer.

Hunt's writing and collaborations have also been included in anthologies such as Indigenous Research: Theories, Practices and Relationships, Keetsahnak: Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous SistersDeterminants of Indigenous Peoples’ Health in Canada, and The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement. She is currently completing a book manuscript under contract with the University of Minnesota Press.

In 2014, Hunt was awarded a Governor General’s Gold Medal for her doctoral dissertation. She was the 2017 recipient of the Glenda Laws Award for Social Justice from the American Association of Geographers in recognition of her social justice contributions.

Sarah Hunt's aspirations

On a personal level, I hope that this research on coastal justice will allow me to learn my Kwak’wala language and to spend time in Kwakwaka’wakw territories where my ancestors have always cultivated a sense of themselves by knowing intimately the ocean, the shorelines and lands that sustain who we are as a people.

On a larger level, I hope to create space for us to change the way justice is talked about for Indigenous People, both within our own communities and in environmental movements, conversations on climate change, water governance and land rights.

I hope the research will reveal tools and resources for coastal people to deepen our expressions of self-determination both in everyday ways and in the governance of our territories, and take significant steps to make a more just future for our next generations.

Ultimately, I hope to lessen the violence Indigenous People face, by engaging in the resurgence of coastal philosophies and practices of justice with one another, our waters and lands, neighbours and kin.