Indigenous Research Experience
Towards the middle of February 2017, I embarked on a three month internship placement at the Indigenous Mi’kmaq community of Flat Bay, Western Newfoundland, with the additional goal of carrying out my MA research on understanding the steps being undertaken to resolve the water security challenges in the community. Flat Bay is a small community of approximately 300 people and visitors to Flat Bay are greeted by the natural ambience of a beautiful aquatic scenery, surrounded by lots of forests, both pleasing to the eyes and mind.
Since I was sojourning into a completely new and different environment, my initial reaction was that of a mixed feeling of skepticism and apprehension (to be candid). However, my initial apprehension was short-lived as I was warmly welcomed and received into the community by the residents. It did not take me much time to realize the extremely friendly and accommodating nature of the Flat Bay people.
The period of my internship coincided with the timeframe granted by Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to allow for appeals by applicants whose previous applications for confirmation of their Indian status were denied and rejected. While at Flat Bay, I interned at the Band Office where I worked with several other people. The nature of my internship placement was structured around understanding the unique situation of each applicant, assisting with their grounds of appeal. This directly brought to bear on my legal background. After the timeframe for the appeal process had elapsed, I commenced with my research of investigating the water insecurity issues in Flat Bay via the theoretical framework of environmental justice.
The internship was such a great experience as it exposed me to the rudiments of conducting research within an Indigenous setting and I was able to learn about the unique culture of the Flat Bay people and appreciate their historical and political struggles as evidenced by the denial of the Indian status of some members, coupled with the water insecurity issues in the community. On a lighter note, I was also opportune to partake in some of the daily activities of the residents such as ice-fishing, rabbit snaring, snow shoe walking, skidooing and quad riding.
In all, my three month stay at Flat Bay was professionally fulfilling as a researcher, culturally exciting and personally motivating as an individual. I can say without any iota of apprehension that Flat Bay has now become home to me and the unique experiences I gathered while there will eternally remain a part and parcel of me. I look forward to visiting again soon.