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Indigenous Data Sovereignty & Indigenous Futures
Big Data at the Margins Presents:

Indigenous Data Sovereignty & Indigenous Futures
Featuring: Jonathan Dewar, Sofia Locklear, and Jason Lewis
27 January, 7:00PM

How do Indigenous peoples claim sovereignty over their data and information, and work to transform the very means, methods and values through which “data” is defined and disseminated? How can the exercise of Indigenous data sovereignty and broader computational empowerment enhance and inspire Indigenous identities, representations and futures? Why should settler scholars, organizations, and individuals support Indigenous data sovereignty? How can “data” be Indigenized?

The fifth event in our series examines the growing movement of Indigenous scholars and activists working to challenge the ethical, legal, and cultural impacts of the colonial forms of data collection. Indigenous peoples know all too well the potential harms to well-being that can come from the imposition of settler-colonial data-informed policies. But even while nation-states around the world “commit” to enact the provisions in The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, implementation of these provisions continues to rely on data collection by statistical agencies of nation states, NGOs and commercial interests. Uninformed by Indigenous priorities and values, these ‘scientific’ data practices inevitably reinforce the treatment of Indigenous groups as “populations,” not as sovereign “peoples” with legitimate claims to their lands, cultures, and resources. In addition to demanding control over their data, advocates for Indigenous data sovereignty call for the re-design, collection, dissemination and use of “data” itself, and for the empowerment of Indigenous peoples to imagine their own futures.

Big Data at the Margins is funded with the generous assistance of the Faculty of Information & Media Studies, Western Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Jan 27, 2022 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Jonathan Dewar
Jonathan Dewar, PhD, has spent most of his 20+ year career directing research and knowledge translation initiatives on behalf of Indigenous-governed national NGOs and has been recognized as a leader in healing and reconciliation and Indigenous health and well-being education, policy, and research. He has published extensively on these subjects, with a specialization in the role of the arts in healing and reconciliation, and has lectured nationally and internationally. From 2012-2016, Jonathan served as the first Director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and Special Advisor to the President at Algoma University, where he led research, education, curatorial, and community service programming, and taught courses in Political Science and Fine Arts. From 2007-2012, Jonathan served as Director of Research at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, where he led the Foundation’s research and evaluation efforts.
Sofia Locklear
Sofia Locklear, who has roots in Kenora, Ontario, recently completed her doctoral degree requirements in Sociology at the University of New Mexico, after receiving a Master of Arts in Sociology degree from UNM in 2017. Locklear also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Seattle University. She is a recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship, as well as the University of New Mexico’s Critical Race Scholar Award. Locklear brings to FIMS expertise in race, whiteness, and the racialization of Indigenous people. She also brings applied public health research skills, having worked with the Urban Indian Health Institute, a Tribal Epidemiology Center serving urban Native communities across the US. Her public health work has focused on Indigenous Evaluation Methodologies, social determinants of health, and medical sociology.
Jason Lewis
Jason Edward Lewis is a digital media theorist, poet, and software designer. He founded Obx Laboratory for Experimental Media, where he conducts research/creation projects exploring computation as a creative and cultural material. Lewis is deeply committed to developing intriguing new forms of expression by working on conceptual, critical, creative and technical levels simultaneously. He is the University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary as well Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University. Lewis was born and raised in northern California, and currently lives in Montreal. Lewis directs the Initiative for Indigenous Futures, and co-directs the Indigenous Futures Research Centre, the Indigenous Protocol and AI Workshops, the Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace research network, and the Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design.
Joanna Redden
Joanna Redden is the co-founder of the Data Justice Lab and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western. Her research focuses on algorithmic governance, particularly how government bodies are making use of changing data systems, and the social justice implications of these changes.