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Wilfrid Laurier University Office of Research Services
December 10, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Who Are We?

Terry Mitchell, Co-Director 


Terry Mitchell is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, in the faculty of Science, at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is a registered psychologist with a private practice and is co-director of the Laurier Indigenous Rights and Social Justice Research Group. Her research focuses on the impacts of colonial trauma, Aboriginal rights and governance issues.

Email: Phone: (519) 884-0710 ext.2052  

Darren Thomas, Co-Director


Darren Thomas is a member of the Seneca Nation; he is a Bear Clan and he currently resides at the Grand River Territory of the Hodinohso:ni. Darren currently is pursuing his PhD in community psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University.  His research has focused on First Nations community development, Indigenous research methodologies, suicide prevention and colonial trauma. Darren specializes in working with First Nations peoples, inspiring them to be proud of their heritage and take a rightful place in modern society. Darren has over twenty years of experience working in radio, education, addiction and community development.

Courtney Arseneau, Research Coordinator 


Courtney Arseneau is a Ph. D. student in the Community Psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University. She received her M.A in Developmental Psychology from WLU in 2013 where she examined perceptions of crime and sentence severity among Aboriginal suspects. Courtney is the coordinator of the WLU Indigenous Right and Social Justice Research Group. Her research is dedicated to evaluating the social and legal implications of sentencing legislation and other legal protocols that affect Aboriginal offenders, including police training in suspect interrogation.

Please contact Courtney with questions or inquiries about the work of the Indigenous Rights and Social Justice Research Group, Email:

Charis Enns, Research Assistant


Charis is a PhD Candidate (ABD) at the Balsillie School of International Affairs where she is pursuing a specialization in global social governance. Her research interests include politics of international development with a focus on the interplay between global governance, civil society and human rights. Her dissertation research considers the implications of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for Indigenous peoplesí land and resource rights through a comparative study of Canada and Tanzania. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Charis worked as a researcher and educator in East Africa. As part of the IRSJ research group, Charis has been involved with various aspects of the Internationalization of Indigenous Rights and Governance Project.

Sheri Longboat, Ph.D


Sheri Longboat is a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her dissertation addresses the challenges to First Nations water security in Canada by investigating the interrelationships between First Nations and Western approaches to water, and the opportunities and barriers to collaboration in water governance. Her research employs a multi-level analysis framework and draws upon conceptual underpinnings from water security, integrated water resource management, Indigenous approaches, institutions theory, and collaboration literatures. Prior to her current pursuits, Sheri worked with First Nations in geomatics (GIS and GPS) implementation to support community-driven land and resource management which included historical, traditional use and values mapping, and knowledge exchange through community-based education and training. She also held a ten year position on the federal governmentís GeoConnections Management Board, and for five years chaired the programís Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Sheri holds an honours BES from the University of Waterloo, MA from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a BEd from Brock University. Her research interests lie in water resources, collaborative governance, Indigenous approaches, and issues of concern for First Nations. 

Jackson Smith, Student Intern


Jackson Smith is currently in the third year of his undergraduate degree at WLU, studying a double major in Global Studies and Psychology, with a research specialization in Psychology.

During his university career thus far, he has taken courses in both Global Studies and Psychology that have opened his eyes to the many forms of injustice that occur in societies. The contributions of these classes in addition to personal experiences have instilled in him an interest in the psychological, social, and cultural impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples; the psychological, social, and cultural impacts of neo-colonialism, actualized through various means such as international development and voluntourism; and how neo-liberal policy encumbers the health and well being of marginalized people. As an extension of this, it is important to him to contribute to the empowerment of indigenous peoples and offer support in their struggles for self-determination, self-governance, and access to human rights. Other avenues of research that he is interested in include the prevention of substance abuse and child sexual abuse.

Jackson is currently working on a human rights framework, as well as media analyses around events of import for Canadian Indigenous peoples (such as Prime Minister Stephen Harperís apology in June 2008, and when Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).  Key passions of his include: reading and writing fantasy and science-fiction, playing guitar and singing, and cooking. Additionally, he is a research assistant with a research group looking at societal attitudes toward people living in poverty, a member of the Coalition for University and Education Reform (CUER) at WLU, and volunteer for the weekly lunches at the Laurier Aboriginal Student Support Centre.

Shawna Davis, Research Assistant


Shawna Davis is a third year psychology research specialist student at Wilfrid Laurier University. During her university career she has taken courses in psychology, anthropology and political science that have introduced her to the inequalities that occur within the Canadian and global context. She has taken a special interest in the struggles and injustices endured by Canadian Indigenous peoples. Following graduation she hopes to further her education in order to pursue her passion for meaningful research and social justice.

McKenzie McFarlane, Research Assistant 

I am a fourth year psychology student in the Research Specialist program at Wilfrid Laurier. Currently I am working on a directed studies independent research project, looking at coping styles and stress levels of service providers who work with women who have been involved in domestic violence. Next year I am pursuing a thesis project investigating the experience of aboriginal individuals involved in the criminal justice system. My main interest is in forensic psychology, and I hope to attend the community psychology masters program at WLU and eventually pursue a PhD in forensic psychology.