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. This project uses a decolonizing framework to explore the ambivalent relationship between hockey, indigeneity, and settler colonialism in Canada. Specifically, we analyze 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" 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. For this project, my team is working to develop a counter-statistical reality for Indigenous youth hockey in Canada. You can find more information about this project on the Indigenous Hockey Research Network website.
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 Sioux Lookout Indian Residential School understand their sport and recreation experiences, now seventy years later, and by investigating how their experiences can be used to aid the reconciliation process. See our Crossing the Red Line website for more information.
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.
Funded by SSHRC, Standard Research Grant, 2008-2011. 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. Some of these interviews were incorporated into my book, Reclaiming Tom Longboat (May 2020).