Blending research and community, Dr. Eva Jewell found her calling

Dr. Eva Jewell stands in front of a rocky background

Graduate of Royal Roads University’s Doctor of Social Sciences program, Dr. Eva Jewell has found great success in the field of research. Jewell graduated from Royal Roads in 2019 and was honored with the Governor General Gold Medal . Since then, she’s started as an assistant professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and as the research director at Yellowhead Institute.   

Yellowhead Institute is what Jewell describes as a “First Nation-led policy think tank,” which is based in the Faculty of Arts at Toronto Metropolitan University. 

Jewell is Anishinaabekwe from Deshkan Ziibiing (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation), with paternal Haudenosaunee lineage. She is a mother, and an active community member within her nation.  

“I like to do community facing work, and work that is more oriented to empowering First Nations in our jurisdiction,” Jewell explains.   

She works at Yellowhead Institute to “help lead and guide their research agenda.” Jewell specifies that this work involves listening and engaging in community and with young people to get a sense of where concerns lie, while also watching policy and engaging with a community of experts and practitioners.  

“Doing this work builds on my prior skills,” she says.  

These are skills she developed both at Royal Roads and while working actively in community – merging community interests with a research approach. Her dissertation, “Gimaadaasamin, we are accounting for the people: support for customary governance in Deshkan Ziibiing,” is an excellent example of the combination of these skills. Her dissertation explored how Deshkan Ziibiing members felt about changing from the Indian Act band structure to the Nation’s own form of governance.  

“My hope is to inspire institutions to not stop at the feel-good work. To actually start digging into the work that doesn’t feel too good.” 

“I didn’t see myself and my interests reflected in the universities around me. So that’s why I chose Royal Roads,” Jewell says. She adds that having the blended learning option as well as the ability to choose her own supervisor all contributed to how she decided on Royal Roads for her doctorate studies. 

“I think there’s something to be said…about reconciliation, about the importance of universities making very intentional and genuine spaces for Canadians to learn about…what this country has done, and also what that legacy is for Indigenous peoples.”  

“My hope is to inspire institutions to not stop at the feel-good work,” Jewell says. “To actually start digging into the work that doesn’t feel too good.” 

This is the type of work she has been actively pursuing at Yellowhead Institute, where she has helped examine, research and report on Canada’s progress towards reconciliation, with her colleague Ian Mosby.  

“For Indigenous folks, I think it’s really important that we have more programs like [those at Royal Roads],” Jewell says about the Doctor of Social Sciences. “I think these programs that are low residency and enable us to be in our communities are really valuable.”  

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