My name is Brandon Gaudette and I am an undergraduate student at Algoma University. This summer I participated in McMaster’s Indigenous Undergraduate Summer Research Scholar Program. This year was the second year McMaster was running the program and I was in a cohort of 20 other Indigenous students from across Canada. The aim of the program is to better prepare Indigenous students who are interested in pursuing graduate school with the research skills they will need throughout their academic careers. Workshops that we were able to attend ranged from Indigenous Knowledge in the academy and Indigenous Research Methods, to increasing our skills on using library resources. What makes this program unique is that we were given the opportunity to learn in a classroom setting at McMaster, but also in a more culture based setting at Six Nations of the Grand River, the largest reserve in Canada. There we received teachings, stories, and workshops by Elders and Indigenous academics. It was a seamless blend of two different styles of understanding and research. At the end of the 8-week period all the students made academic posters and presented them to each other and the public in Six Nations.
As part of the program the students got paired up with faculty at McMaster University to do some hands-on research. I was lucky enough to get in and be able to work from beginning to end on a pilot study with Dr. Karen Bird, Dr. Chelsea Gabel, PhD candidate Liam Midzain-Gobin (Department of Political Science) and another student from the program, Eric Sault. Together we piloted a study to better understand how Indigenous people conceptualize their own citizenship. We did this using Q-methodology, which is a method commonly used to better understand human subjectivity. Eric and I were exposed to all the nuances of research like getting through ethics, the complexity of recruitment and data collection. The pilot project we did is going to be used to inform a greater study using the same methodology.
I gained so much from both the program and my faculty advisers. They were extremely helpful and allowed me to really grow as an academic in such a short time. I had never had any experience with research up until this point so I was consistently learning new things. I was able to learn about Q-methodology and then use that knowledge to conduct the study and analyze the information.
Outside of the IUSRS program I have been given an opportunity to continue to work with Dr. Bird and Dr. Gabel on this project. As a continuation I will be co-authoring a paper with my research team and Eric and I will be presenting it at the 32nd Annual Q Conference for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity.
4th year undergraduate student in Law and Justice at Algoma University
For more information about the program visit: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/08/05/indigenous-students-get-early-glimpse-of-grad-school-life.html