My name is Matthew Ward and I am a 5th year queer Cree student from Driftpile First Nation. I am in the First Nations Studies Program and Political Science here at UBC. I left my home in Northern Alberta on the shores of Slave Lake to study theatre and music in Edmonton at the age of 14. Upon graduation, I moved to Vancouver to engage critically with settler-colonialism here on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm people. I give thanks to this community, as the entirety of my academic education would not be possible without their continued sacrifices. I hold this closely in my mind and heart when working both in class and in my community. I spend my time studying national and international Indigenous politics, Indigenous feminism, queer studies, and occasionally I dabble in issues of representation in the context of theatre (I blame this on my work with the Edmonton Fringe Festival as a stage manager the past couple of years).
When I’m not working on school work, I’m also the President of the First Nations Studies Student Association (FNSSA, learn more here), which operates as a politically engaged and community-rooted organization here on campus for Indigenous and non-indigenous students. I’m heavily influenced by my classmates in the First Nations Studies Program (FNSP), as well as my professors in the program who all emphasize ethical approaches to research as the basis for positive work within our communities. Dr. Dory Nason’s work in Indigenous feminism has shown me the ways in which marginalization within Indigenous communities is gendered, but also the power of women within the field of Indigenous studies. Dr. Glen Coulthard’s critiques of capitalism and use of Frantz Fanon in an Indigenous context helped me better understand the process of on-going decolonization and critiques of settler-colonialism (read his book Red Skin, White Masks!). Contextualizing what I study within a global context would not have been possible without Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot’s work in global Indigenous politics, which also showed me the importance of cross-community collaboration and assertions of nationhood in these spheres of political power. I’d also like to acknowledge the guidance of Dr. Daniel Justice, chair of the First Nations Studies Program, whose ability to foster community and dialogue within the FNSP and the UBC community inspires me to do the same.
I’m looking forward to working with The Talon to find ways to root local, national, and global social justice issues in the context of UBC, and to investigate the nature of these issues as they manifest on unceded Indigenous territory here in Canada. As an Indigenous student I’m also interested in positionality and its use in acknowledging systems of power and providing accountability to community and to self. I’m also excited to shed light on Indigenous student’s experiences here at UBC in hopes of making post-secondary education more accessible, and to better the experiences of current and incoming students through awareness and dialogue.
I will now shamelessly plug my twitter: @m4ttw4rd
Keep it real!