Current Students

       Rachel Arsenault

Rachel is a Master’s student at Laurentian University in the Masters of Indigenous Relations program. The draft title of her thesis is Recommendations Towards Eliminating Boil Water Advisories in First Nation Communities in Ontario Using an Indigenous Oriented Approach. She currently work with the Indigenous Research Methods Working Group on Indigenous Water Governance in collaboration with the University of British Columbia and the Health Sciences North Research Institute. She have been a technician for the Ontario First Nations Young People’s Council for the past two years and looks forward to advocating for another great cause in the year(s) to come: Indigenous rights to and governance of water.

     Maria Lucas

Maria Lucas is an Afro-Métis woman. Her heritage inspired her to study Indigenous-Crown relations in a historical and political context in  her undergraduate degree, which she completed at the University of Toronto. In her studies, she discovered the unique legal framework that informs Indigenous peoples’ relationship with the Crown and she came to understand that the law is key to reconciling this relationship. As a result, she was prompted to pursue law school. She is entering into her third year of legal studies at the University of Ottawa where she hopes to complete her Juris Doctor with a focus on Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Legal Traditions. Maria looks forward to enriching her knowledge of Indigenous legal traditions by working as a Research Assistant with the Decolonizing Water initiative this fall.


    Alyssa Bird 

Alyssa Bird nindizhinikaaz, Enawesiikwens indigo. Ma’iingan nindoodem. Niin-Anishinaabekwe miinawaa Ininiwi-iskwew. Oshi-Ishkonigan nindoonjii. Translation to English: My name is Alyssa Bird, my Anishinaabe name is a Little Mourning Dove. I am from the Wolf clan. I am an Anishinaabe and Cree woman from the Peguis First Nation. Alyssa was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is located in Treaty 1 territory. Her home community is Peguis First Nation, and while she was raised in the city, Alyssa still travels to Peguis often to visit family and participate in community events. Alyssa’s family raised her with close knowledge of Anishinaabe teachings and the relationship she has with land and waters around her. Those teachings have instilled a foundation that guides her life decisions. After studying photography, Alyssa has captured many events around the Idle No More movement and her photos of Indigenous community celebrations have been published in different media. Alyssa began her law degree after studying Native studies at the University of Manitoba. She is especially interested in environmental, Aboriginal, Treaty and Indigenous law. She hopes to further the recognition of Indigenous law as a guide to move forward on environmental law and policies. She also hopes to push the boundaries of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title to better represent the Indigenous narrative and inherent right to land-based relationships of Indigenous nations in Canada.

    Heather Gunter

Heather Gunter is a first year law student at the University of Ottawa, in the common law program. She grew up in Dish With One Spoon territory and completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University, where she took courses in Indigenous Studies and history. She currently lives on Algonquin territory, and is spending the summer working on research in Indigenous law and legal traditions. Heather is thankful and excited to be a part of the Decolonizing Water Project.


    Hannah Ruby 

Hannah is currently pursuing her Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa. She was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, which is located on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. Previously, she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Carleton University, with a double major in Art History and Law. Hannah is passionate about access to justice, and enjoys learning about environmental justice and Indigenous legal frameworks. She is excited to contribute to the Decolonizing Water Project as a Research Assistant, and is eager to expand her knowledge of Indigenous water governance.

       Alexandra Machicado-McGee

Alexandra Machicado-McGee lives in Ottawa on traditional unceded Algonquin, Anishnabek territory. From 2009 until 2016, she found love in paddling on numerous rivers as an athlete on the Canadian National Whitewater Canoe Slalom Team. She understands how powerful and special our water ways are. Her experiences on the water have shaped how she views the world and everything in it. She knows that there must be balance and is aware that now more than ever we must fight to protect the water and our home. She has participated in the anti-Kinder Morgan demonstrations in Vancouver while also showing her solidarity with water protectors by travelling to Standing Rock to help stop the North Dakota Access Pipeline.

Alexandra’s interest in human and environmental rights is what inspired her to apply for the Juris Doctor program. Previous to this, she completed her Bachelor’s in Social Science with Honours in Conflict Studies and Human Rights.She is currently completing her Common Law degree from the University of Ottawa. She wants to do her part in securing a better future for future generations as well as all of mother earth’s gifts.


     Shianna McAllister

Shianna McAllister is a Nlaka’pamux graduate student at the University of Victoria in the Political Science department and a member of Lytton First Nation whose traditional territory is located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Shianna’s hometown of Lytton and the surrounding First Nation reserves sit at the confluence of two major rivers, the Fraser and the Thompson which profoundly influences Nlaka’pamux conceptions of space and place. As a result, various waterways such as rivers and creeks are not only geographic landmarks but are also places of great spiritual significance to the Nlaka’pamux. Waterways always have and continue to be a major site of livelihood and sustenance for Indigenous communities such as hers. These waterscapes inform what it means to be an Nlaka’pamux person and so this is the context Shianna brings to her research. Informed by political theory and Canadian politics Shianna’s research area focuses on bridging canonical political theory to contemporary Indigenous politics, connecting them with community based research. Shianna is very thankful and excited to be a part of the Decolonizing Water Project.


    Christina Gray

Christina is an LLM Candidate at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law. As a Research Assistant with the Decolonizing Water Project, her research focuses on water sovereignty for the Ts’msyen of Lax Kw’alaams. Christina is a Ts’msyen member from Lax Kw’alaams as well as Dene and Metis from Lutsel K’e. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Art History) and Juris Doctor degree from the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law. She is called to the bar in Ontario, having articled at Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. Christina has also worked as a human rights lawyer in Toronto and Senior Research Associate at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario. Christina currently holds the position of Secretary with the Indigenous Bar Association’s Board of Directors.

      Josh Barichello 

Josh Barichello is non-Indigenous. He grew up in the territories of the Kaska Dena, Shutaot’ine and Kwanlinn Dunn. He is currently pursuing an MA in Geography at UBC, with a research focus on the potential of Indigenous Guardian Programs in contributing to self-determination, in spite of settler colonial strategies of dispossession. He is coming to the unceded land of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwu7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples from the community of Tu Łidlini (Ross River), where he has spent the last 6 years working with the Elders Council on various Indigenous knowledge projects and on developing and facilitating land-based education programs.


        Mike Krebs

Mike Krebs (Fabris) is currently pursuing his PhD in Geography at UBC. He also completed his Masters in Geography at UBC, and has a Bachelor of Arts from SFU. His PhD research focuses on the role of land-based practice in the formation of Indigenous identity in urban and rural reserve environments. An Indigenous student of Blackfoot and European descent, Mike lives with his son on the unceded Skwxwu7mesh, Tsleil-Waututh, and Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm territories of Vancouver.


        Melpatkwa Matthew

Melpatkwa Matthew is Secwepemc from the Simpcw Band. She is currently in her fourth year at UBC studying in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems in the Global Resource Systems Program. Melpatkwa is excited to be working on the Decolonizing Water Project. Being a Research Assistant enables them to challenge colonial ways of thinking and re-establish traditional knowledge and how it is applied to water systems. As the project progresses it is inspiring to witness how every element is being brought together that will decolonize water and empower Indigenous people with their water systems and rights.


       Joanna Nelson 

Joanne Nelson is a Ts’msyen woman who grew up in the northwestern BC communities of Port Edward and Prince Rupert where she gained a tremendous appreciation for nature, in particular the ocean environment.  She is from Lax Kw’alaams on her mother’s side and Kitsumkalum on her father’s side.  Her passions include traditional Ts’msyen art forms as well as paddle sports such as dragon boat and outrigger canoe.  She is an incoming PhD student with IRES and is looking forward to conducting meaningful research with First Nations communities that favour Indigenous Ways of Knowing and traditional knowledge.  Joanne has been an uninvited guest on the unceded land of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwu7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh people on and off for over 30 years.

       Madeline Whetung

Madeline Whetung is undertaking a PhD in Geography at the University of British Columbia. Her MA research considered the overlapping Indigenous and Western legal contexts surrounding the Trent-Severn Waterway by paddling traditional harvesting routes in her home territory, Michisaagiig Nishnaabegaki. She is interested in land and water-based living, unsettling settler colonialism, and the relationship between body and land. Currently she is engaged in community work against gender-based violence in her home community of Nogojiwanong. Whetung is a citizen of the Nishnaabeg nation and a member of Curve Lake First Nation of Michisaagiig, Scottish, and English descent.


     Adele Therias

Adele Therias is non-Indigenous and living on the unceded land of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwu7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh people after growing up in France. She is completing her B.A. in Geography at the University of British Columbia with a minor in Urban Studies, and works as a Research Assistant for the Decolonizing Water Project. During her undergraduate degree, she has completed community-based projects about unemployment and transportation in Williams Lake, food security in Surrey, and archival interviews on Bowen Island. She is a co-founder of Neighbour Lab, a transdisciplinary urban planning and design studio and is passionate about supporting communities as they strengthen their resilience.


    Mercedes Peters

Mercedes Peters is a Mi’kmaw woman from Glooscap First Nation. She grew up in Wolastoqiyik territory in Saint John, New Brunswick and is of Mi’kmaq and Scottish descent. Right now, Mercedes is finishing an MA in History at Dalhousie University and will be starting a PhD in History at UBC in September. Mercedes’ research focuses on the impacts of assimilation policy on Indigenous lives and identities, and how colonization as a tool of oppression becomes internalized by Indigenous people over time. She works with the understanding that if we can understand how colonization impacted us in the past, and trace it back to its roots, we can more effectively heal from it, and challenge it today. Mercedes is also actively involved in researching the impacts of climate change on First Nations communities in Mi’kma’ki and Wolastiqiyik territory, and using the information she gathers to help communities advocate for climate justice and assert treaty rights. Some of her most recent work includes working on a report with Diana Lewis for the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs entitled “Climate Change Impacts on Atlantic First Nations Drinking Water, Wastewater Systems, Fisheries and Aquaculture,” which was used to train Community Based Water Monitors in First Nations communities in the Atlantic Provinces. Mercedes is passionate about decolonizing conceptions of land and water, centering Indigenous ways of knowing and recognizing Indigenous sovereignty and connection to territory; she is so excited to be a part of Decolonizing Water.


       Meggan Jacobson

After immigrating to Canada from South Africa when she was nine, Meggan grew up on the unceded territory of the Skwxwu7mesh, Tsleil-Waututh, and Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm in North Vancouver. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Geography with a minor in First Nations and Indigenous Studies from UBC. She has also completed an associate degree in Global Stewardship from Capilano University. Meggan is passionate about environmental justice on a local and global scale and is excited to be working with the Decolonizing Water Project.

Past Students


Mallory Amirault

Emily Carr University

Lindsay Borrows

University of Victoria

Quill Christie

University of Victoria


Lisa Girbav

University of BC



Josh Kioke

University of BC


Ada Smith

University of BC


Corey Snelgrove

University of BC


Sarah Zernitz




Nicole J. Wilson

University of BC



Andrea Lucy

University of BC


Renee Proulx



Jessica Hepburn

University of BC


Alisa Koebel

University of Manitoba


Teddy Eyster

University of BC


Robin Heavens

University of BC


 Raven-Dominique Gobeil 

University of Manitoba


Rayanna Hourie

University of Manitoba


  Shakti Ramkumar

University of BC


Marina Guessous

University of BC


Myia Antone

University of BC


Alyssa Bird

University of Manitoba


 Jacquie Tourand

Simon Fraser University