Read about  Lisa's approach to graduate student supervision: "Researching in the Classroom" 

Masters of Education Students


Lisa Primavesi

Lisa Primavesi grew up in a rural area near the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Her early love of nature was nurtured by her parents and grandparents, and provided a natural progression to her undergraduate Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies and her Bachelor of Education, specializing in Outdoor, Environmental and Experiential Education. After more than two decades as an outdoor educator in and around Thunder Bay, Lisa headed north to teach in a remote First Nations community. When she returned to the city, Lisa began her Master of Education, focusing on Indigenous Education. Her studies and academic perspectives were guided by experiences shared and relationships built in the north.Lisa’s OGS funded, auto-ethnographic research portfolio, titled “Ever White Miss: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Post-Secondary Mathematics Education” is a personal and professional exploration of Lisa’s best practices as a teacher of Indigenous students. Having completed her Masters in 2015, Lisa continues to teach and support Indigenous students in a variety of academic and social settings.           

Michelle Clarke

Michelle grew up in Holland Landing ON, spending her summers at various summer camps and traveling to parks with her family. At Lakehead University, Michelle completed an undergraduate degree in Outdoor Recreation Parks and Tourism as well as Natural Science which gave her the foundation to work for six years at various outdoor education and youth programs where she combined her interest in the outdoors with her passion for engaging youth. It was during her last position at the Thunder Bay Boys & Girls Club, working with many underprivileged but resilient Indigenous youth, that Michelle became motivated to pursue a Masters in Education.  Michelle is investigating the thesis topic, Indigenizing Environmental Education: How can land-based practices become an educational journey of reconciliation?


Alex Bissell

Alex grew up camping along the shores and exploring the waters of Georgian Bay (traditional territory of the Beausoleil First Nation) with her parents and brother at her side. She first came to Lakehead University five years ago to complete her Bachelor of Education degree. After graduating as a certified teacher, she moved to Sandy Lake First Nation where she spent three years teaching high school science and special education. This experience instilled in her a strong commitment to Indigenous education and a desire to work, with hope, towards finding culturally responsive methods for engaging Indigenous students.  She completed a Masters of Education thesis entitled, Building bridges in indigenizing education: Digital narratives as a means of shifting non-Indigenous teacher horizons towards relationality, in which she pursued the questions: How can non-Indigenous teachers use multimedia expression to understand and support the resilient identities and academic potential of Indigenous youth? And, what can these youth teach teachers about Indigenous identity and self-determination in school and Canadian society? She recently presented her thesis findings at AEARA 2015 in Chicago and CSSE 2015 at the University of Ottawa. She also was grateful for receive a Graduate Student Award from the Canadian Association of Teacher Education, as seen here                                                                                                                        

Thesis title:  Building bridges in indigenizing education: Digital narratives as a means to shift non-Indigenous teacher horizons towards relationality 

Abstract: This thesis was developed in response to the pressing need to find methods for non-Indigenous teachers to actively teach for Indigenous student resilience, and to center Indigenous students and their families in an education system which consistently marginalizes and silences them (Canadian Council on Learning 2009; Dion, 2009). Digital narratives are explored as a means to address this need. Through the use of teacher research and photovoice I answer two research questions: How can non-Indigenous teachers use multimedia expression to shift their horizons in order to better understand and support the resilient identities and academic potential of Indigenous youth? And, what can these youth teach these educators about Indigenous identity and self-determination in school and Canadian society? Analysis of a variety of data sources, which included in-service and pre-service teacher interviews, autoethnographic journals, and Indigenous students’ digital narratives (iMovies), revealed six thematic ways in which students’ digital narratives, and the process of creating them, shifted teachers towards a more relational stance with their students and centered student voice in the classroom. In theorizing the outcomes of this study I interpret these themes as bridges. These pathways facilitate dialogue and encourage relationship to be built between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous. These bridges include 1) intrinsically valuing technology as a teaching tool, 2) reciprocation and authentic relationship, 3) collaboration, 4) student self–representation, 5) student demonstration of knowledge, and, 6) record of student strengths. The findings of this thesis provide a rich example of how digital narratives can be used in the classroom to move towards an indigenized approach in education, support Indigenous students’ self-determination in schools and encourage relationality, a stance of acknowledging and moving towards better relations by recognizing a shard humanity and future (Donald, 2012), between settler-Canadian teachers and Indigenous students.


Doctoral Candidates

Emily Root: 

Research interests include: Indigenous education; environmental/outdoor education; decolonizing methodologies; settler-ally relationality

Dissertation title:  Dis-placing Myself: Decolonizing a Settler Outdoor Environmental Educator

Abstract: Indigenous communities across Canada are courageously fighting to protect their Lands for future generations. Increasingly, settler-Canadians are paying more attention to how they might work in solidarity with Indigenous communities to disrupt socio-ecological injustice. In the fields of outdoor and environmental education, we are witnessing more efforts that integrate social and ecological perspectives that challenge the dominant inequitable power structures impacting people and the more-than-human world. All of these contributions are going to help improve to a certain degree the health and sustainability of communities.

Despite these efforts, settler colonialism remains entrenched throughout Canadian institutions. Schools are still largely failing to meet the needs of Indigenous students (Dion, 2010; Haldane, Lafond, and Krause, 2012; Little Bear, 2009). Furthermore, I would argue that schools are also failing non-Indigenous students by continuing to teach Eurocentric myths and perspectives. One reason for this is that settler-Canadian educators have not been taught about resilient Indigenous cultures, shared colonial histories, or their own complicity in contemporary socio-ecological colonialism. I argue that settler environmental educators need to decolonize our selves and our teaching praxis in order to shift towards ethical relationality (Donald, 2012) or respectful relationality (Korteweg, 2013) with Indigenous peoples and Lands. To date, however, little research exists that conceptualizes decolonization for settler-Canadians or seeks to understand how to facilitate these complex and life-long processes.

Working from an Indigen-ist/decolonizing theoretical (Smith, 1999, 2010; Wilson, 2001; 2007) framework and guided by auto-ethnographic methodology (Denzin, 2004, 2006; Ellingson and Ellis, 2008; Anderson, 2006), I employ reflexive narrative vignettes and constructivist grounded theory analysis (Charmaz, 2003, 2006; Kovach, 2010) to examine the factors and experiences that facilitate and/or prevent settler-Canadians’ capacity to shift towards respectful relationality with Aboriginal peoples. I aim to provide an in-depth model of “unsettling the settler” (Reagan, 2010) through my own self-study in order to expand the literature on settler decolonizing and to theorize fundamental moves that all educators, but in particular environmental educators, need to experience to deepen our decolonizing understandings by dis-placing ourselves rather than re-embedding Tuck & Yang's (2012) "settler moves to innocence" by -claiming special (settler) place on Indigenous homelands.

            Through my own critical self-study, I offer eleven counter-moves or “settler moves to respectful relationality,” based on experiences that support decolonization; (Indigenous) Land-based experiences; constant acknowledgement of all of Canada (Turtle Island) as Indigenous Land; engagement with resilient Indigeneity; relationships with Indigenous peoples; critically reflexive autobiographical work; and, connections to one’s own cultural heritage and community.


Kathy Kortes-Miller: 

Research interests include: death education, palliative care education, undergraduate healthcare education; inter-professional education (IPE), digital technologies in higher education 

Dissertation title: Death Education: Simulating the End of Life to Beginning Healthcare Providers

Abstract: The national Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada report advocates that professional healthcare education must become even more important for a systems-wide approach to handling hospice palliative and end-of-life care in order to ensure that the soaring numbers of dying Canadians receive quality care in all settings where they die over the next 10 years. Recognizing this critical societal need and addressing it as an educational challenge, this grounded theory study examines undergraduate student experiences with high fidelity simulation labs in death education or interprofessional palliative care. This study is guided by the central questions: What forms of knowledge and processes of learning are generated in an interprofessional palliative care simulation learning environment? And what is the experience and impacts of the interprofessional palliative care simulation from the undergraduate healthcare learner’s perspective? This research study recognized that learner participation in the instructional technological platform of simulation prompts questions about the nature of experiential learning and how it is that learning arises out of simulation.

                  The design for this study followed standard processes in grounded theory by using constant comparisons throughout the data analysis process and by adopting a constructivist perspective toward the research process. Nine participants, all enrolled in an Ontario university and accredited an Introduction to Palliative Care course, completed two palliative care simulation lab experiences designed to provide opportunity to test drive their knowledge using a palliative approach, and to start a conversation about their role as future palliative care practitioners. The data were collected from student group debrief sessions following the simulation labs; from the study’s 3 phases’ interviews that each participant individually engaged in (each participant x 3 interviews); and finally, from my own extensive observations and field note journals. Analysis followed grounded theory procedures and initial, focused, axial and theoretical coding was performed. The substantive emergent theory is an explanatory model to address the studied phenomenon: the undergraduate interprofessional palliative care learning experience using high fidelity simulation. This new theory, 3H of Head, Heart & Hands, attempts to capture the student experience in simulated death education as it pertains to learning processes, perceptions of learning, impacts on learning, and meanings associated with learning that resulted from their participation in the study. The findings and 3H theory that emerged have significance and implications at individual, organizational, and societal levels of analysis pertaining to the fields of simulation in higher education, undergraduate interprofessional programs, and palliative care of the dying and their families.


Bryanna Scott

Bryanna Scott was born and raised in Fort Frances, Ontario and identifies as a Metis person.  Bryanna first graduated from Lakehead University in 1998 with a degree in Sociology and her passion for learning continued to grow obtaining additional degrees from the Honors Bachelor of Social Work program in 2003 and a Master’s in Public Health in 2007.  After working for the federal government for twelve years funding Aboriginal children’s programs, Bryanna decided to leave the health promotion field behind and embark in her journey into education.  Bryanna is currently a PhD student in Education and her research interests include embedding Aboriginal content into curriculum in both post-secondary and elementary school systems.  Bryanna owes much of her interests due her young daughter, a Lake Helen band member! 

Research interests include:  Aboriginal content into curriculum, early learning programs, storytelling

Dissertation titleIndigenizing College Faculty Development

Additional Completed Theses/Portfolios