My research looks at issues of spatial data science in Indigenous contexts and adopts a critical GIScience perspective to interrogate ways in which mapping and geospatial technologies reinforce power dynamics in society. One of my focuses has been on the formalization of Indigenous knowledges and integration with scientific and other spatial data. Ontologies are a rather obscure yet fundamental area of study in GIScience. They offer potential ways for Indigenous peoples to formalize their knowledge and make them interoperable with multiple sources of data on the web. My research looks at the development of computer data models that consider Indigenous conceptualizations of space and time rather than assimilating them into western concepts. Another focus in my research has been on deconstructing mapping technologies' underlying architecture to examine the challenges and benefits in considering Indigenous epistemologies and minimizing knowledge. My recent work focuses on Indigenous spatial data sovereignty and governance in the context of VGI, Big data, Open data, corporate control of data, and ubiquitous data production in society. For example, I look at ways that mapping technologies support or undermine Indigenous governance over data that is produced about their territory.
My qualitative research methodologies are based on critical, feminist, and Indigenous research theories in efforts to minimize the reproduction of power dynamics in knowledge production. The objective is to co-create work that is beneficial for Indigenous communities. I have been working extensively in community-based mapping projects with the Cree in Northern Quebec in the contexts of developing protected areas, documenting environmental and ecological changes, collecting oral history, gathering traditional and historical use of the territory, as well as providing geospatial pieces of evidence in litigation processes for land claims.
Interdisciplinarity has been a key component of my work. The research projects in which I worked on in South America, Africa, and Indigenous communities in Northern Quebec included many disciplines such as community development, social sciences, humanities, planning, digital geography, human geography, and physical geography. The co-creation of research that are beneficial for all collaborators and communities has been crucial for effective interdisciplinarity. Defining research priorities, orientations, and questions is increasingly becoming a requisite in working with local communities such as in Indigenous contexts. Involving Indigenous people in every part of the research is crucial to ensure that they are not merely considered as research subjects but are rather held as experts and collaborators. I also believe in the value of interdisciplinarity in graduate and undergraduate programs to train students in cutting-edge data science techniques combined with ethical commitments and community-based approaches.
My teaching experience includes teaching GIS courses and labs, lecturing classes, conducting seminars, and training in GIS and mapping for graduate students, undergraduate students, and Indigenous community members. The curricula of the courses that I teach includes notions of GIS and the variety of applications in geography, urban planning, and other disciplines; projects in GIS software and digital mapping applications; introductory programming skills for mapping applications; and geospatial data collection tools and methods. I also include ethical issues of geospatial technologies and mapping and critical GIScience theories, approaches, and applications in all my courses.