Projects

Indigeneity, Hockey, and Canadian Nationhood

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Funded by SSHRC, Insight Grant, 2018-2023. Principle Investigator: Sam McKegney, Queen's University. Co-Investigators: Janice Forsyth, Western, and Robert Henry, University of Calgary. "Decolonizing Sport" explores the ambivalent relationship between hockey, indigeneity, and settler colonialism in Canada. The project analyzes the role of hockey in the naturalization of the settler Canadian nation state and the simultaneous mobilization of the sport as a vehicle for libratory self-expression and community building by Indigenous players, coaches, and fans. The phrase "decolonizing sport" is employed here in two senses: the first pertains to the need for hockey to be decolonized, given its colonialist baggage and its saturation with racist, sexist, and homophobic discourse; the second pertains to the capacity for the sport to be exercised in ways that serve Indigenous resurgence. The project brings together eminent and upcoming Indigenous and settler-allied scholars with expertise in Sport History, Gender Theory, Narrative Studies, Sociology, and Filmmaking.

How Can Sport be Used to Heal the Past?

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Funded by SSHRC, Insight Grant, 2016-2021. Principal Investigator: Janice Forsyth. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission  of Canada, released in March 2015, clearly identified sport and  recreation as important elements of the Indian residential school  experience and the present reconciliation process. If we accept the  basic premise on which the Commission was founded, that greater  understanding is a key to ‘healing’ from the past, then examining all  aspects of the residential school system and raising challenging  questions about the patterns that emerge from the evidence will be vital  to our success. The point here is not to argue about whether sports and  games were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ features of the curricula, or to define the  outcomes in positive or negative terms, but to examine how these  activities played a central role in the program of assimilation, and how  students responded to these activities in productive and creative ways,  building their ingenuity and resilience one game at a time. This study  will contribute that understanding by creating a detailed account of how  students at two schools, Sioux Lookout and Spanish Indian Residential  School, understood their sport and recreation experiences and by  investigating how those experiences can be used to aid the  reconciliation process. 

More than Sports and Games

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Early Researcher Award/Premier’s Research Excellence Award. Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation, 2012-2017. Principal Investigator: Janice Forsyth. The residential school system is generally known for the abuses and deficiencies that have contributed to an array of negative health effects that impact Aboriginal lives in Canada. Yet, in the growing literature base that accounts for the maltreatment and neglect, there remains almost no analysis about the history of physical culture at these institutions - an oversight that limits our understanding of the relationship between residential schooling and Aboriginal health. This project is helping to address that gap by documenting and analyzing the history of sports and games at two residential schools in Northern Ontario: Sioux Lookout and Spanish. 

Changing the Face of Canadian Sport

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Funded by SSHRC, Standard Research Grant, 2008-2011 (+1 year). Principal Investigator: Janice Forsyth, Co-investigators: Michael Heine, Western, and Audrey Giles, University of Ottawa. This project involved collecting, documenting, and analyzing the sporting experiences of Aboriginal athletes who received a Tom Longboat Award from the year of its inception in 1951 to 1998, and by disrupting the existing discourses on Canadian sport through the construction and dissemination of counter-narratives about Aboriginal sport. The objectives were two-fold: 1) to expand our understanding of the factors that enable and constrain Aboriginal participation in Canadian sport, and 2) to create a more balanced understanding of what it means to be an Aboriginal athlete in Canada. More than 55 interviews with Tom Longboat Award recipients were conducted for this project. The results are still being disseminated.