Department of Indigenous Studies


Welcome to the Department of Indigenous Studies


The World Council of Indigenous Peoples define Indigenous peoples as ”people, living in countries which have populations composed of differing ethnic or racial groups, who are descendants of the earliest populations living in the area and who do not as a group control the national government of the countries within which they live.” ​

Indigenous Studies at the University of Lethbridge is dedicated to community-engaged scholarship, and research of the priorities and aspirations of Indigenous peoples in Canada and throughout the world. Within the department, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students have the opportunity to learn and think about Indigenous knowledges in creative, transformative and critical ways. The department offers courses that engender a rigorous and respectful understanding of Indigenous peoples’ languages, knowledges, cultures, histories, politics, arts, intellectual traditions, and research methodologies.


Department Highlights

Lena Russell - Obituary

The Department of Indigenous Studies extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, students and colleagues of Ikkináínihki (Gentle Singer) Dr. Lena Heavy Shields Russell (BEd ’77, LLD ’06) who passed away on March 29, 2024.

Lena’s lifelong connection to Iniskim began in the 1970s, when she earned a Bachelor of Education in 1977. She spent her entire working life promoting and teaching Niitsi’powahsin, the Blackfoot language. She taught in the public schools on and off reserve as well as at the university, where she taught Advanced Spoken Blackfoot courses in the early 2000s.

To support Blackfoot language teaching in the schools, Ikkináínihki published a series of textbooks for the middle and high school level that remains one of the most comprehensive teaching resources available.

Dr. Heavy Shields Russell collaborated extensively with faculty of the Department of Indigenous Studies (formerly Native American Studies) on language-related projects, especially professors Don Frantz and Inge Genee. She was one of the principal consultants of the Blackfoot Dictionary of Stems, Roots and Affixes, co-edited by the late Donald Frantz with Lena’s daughter Norma Russell. Frantz also acknowledges her important contribution to his understanding of the language in his Blackfoot Grammar.

Lena Russell travelled to Vancouver with Inge Genee in 2006 to deliver a plenary lecture at the 38th Algonquian Conference. In 2014 they co-published Ákaitsinikssiistsi: Blackfoot Stories of Old. Lena and Inge also worked with visiting professor Fernando Zúñiga from Switzerland on several projects, one of which resulted in a co-authored article in the journal Linguistic Discovery in 2012. Lena was the principal mentor and language consultant of Inge’s master’s student Madoka Mizumoto, who graduated in 2016. In 2015 Lena, Inge and Madoka were invited participants in a workshop on Blackfoot language at the University of California Berkeley, where Lena was the main language consultant.

Dr. Heavy Shields Russell was rightfully proud of her accomplishments. Her important work was recognized by an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Lethbridge in 2006. In 2018 she received the Esquao Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW). In 2021 she was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence

We are grateful and proud to have known Ikkináínihki and thankful for her long life and the professional and personal impact she has had on so many people.

On behalf of the Department of Indigenous Studies prepared by Inge Genee (Piitáákii)

A full obituary can be viewed here.

A condolence notice from the University of Lethbridge can be found here.

Reading of 'Buffalo is the New Buffalo' - Author Chelsea Vowel

Watch for a new date announcement!

Renowned author Chelsea Vowel of manitow-sâkihikan (Lac Ste. Anne) will read from her short-story anthology Buffalo is the New Buffalo. Inspired by classic and contemporary speculative fiction, she explores "Métis existence and resistance through a lens of being Métis...but you don't have to be Métis to get it."

Light refreshments will be provided and copies of her book will be available to purchase.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 20, 2024
              3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: L1060 (Library Building) 

This event is in-person, Chelsea Vowel will be joining via Zoom

This event is open to everyone and we hope you can join us!

Hosted by the Indigenous Writers Series.

Tara Million Publication in International Journal for Equity in Health

Factors of success, barriers, and the role of frontline workers in Indigenous maternal-child health programs: a scoping review

Despite considerable investment in maternal-child programs in Canada, there has been little positive impact on the health of Indigenous mothers and their children. The reasons for this are unclear and there is a need to identify how such programs can be successfully implemented. Community input is essential for successful programs; however, it is unclear what the contributions of frontline workers have been in the health program process, i.e., program development, delivery, and evaluation. Based on these identified gaps, this scoping review aimed to: (1) identify factors of success and barriers to successful Indigenous maternal-child community health programs for mothers and their children aged 0–6 years; and (2) explore how frontline workers are included in the program process.

Fine Arts Shining Student Jackson Paquette

Shining Student Jackson Paquette takes inspiration from his surroundings, from the concrete hallways of the University of Lethbridge, to the sweeping grasses in the coulees.

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Shining Student Tyra Hercina

Tyra Hercina's professors have played pivotal roles in her University of Lethbridge experience, shaping Tyra's approach to education, and inspiring her to consider a future as a professor of Indigenous studies.

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Indigenous Women’s Speaker Series offers something for community and student-organizers

An Indigenous Women's Speaker Series, organized by Indigenous women, is a win-win situation for all involved. It will help Indigenous women scholars amplify their voice, while providing practical skills for the ULethbridge students …

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Career Bridge: Centre for Work-Integrated Learning and Career Development

Career Bridge


Put Your Knowledge to Work 

Whether you’re looking for a more in-depth learning experience by assisting with research projects on campus or by testing your knowledge in a real-life work setting, we can help! The University of Lethbridge is proud to offer you an exceptional opportunity to explore professional development through academic programs and services designed to give you a competitive edge in a fast-changing world.

You have a bright future — experience it via Career Bridge at uLethbridge!

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