Student Researchers


About Katarina Djordjevic

Katarina Djordjevic is in her fourth, and final, year in the Honours Environmental Studies with a focus in Sustainable Development at the University of Manitoba. She works with Professor Jonathan Peyton on research that encompasses the natural resource economies of the Canadian prairies. The research is framed by hydroelectric developments in Manitoba and their ramifications, including abandoned sites and indigenous relations.

With the site of Sundance, Manitoba, the research aims to assess the social and environmental implications of such phenomena, contributing to the argument that water is a nexus for environmental dislocation, socio-economic formations, and engineering expertise. More broadly, it also aims to understand the legacy for future developments that Manitoba Hydro’s energy mega-projects’ (such as the Limestone Generating Station) impart, informing the parameters and rationales of specific resource use.

About Gerald Beta

Gerald Beta is a Master of Environment student at the University of Manitoba. In 2019, He was awarded an Honours (BSc) Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at Midlands State University, a certificate in Project and program monitoring and evaluation at the University of Zimbabwe and an ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems certificate in Zimbabwe.

As a student researcher, under the leadership of Professor Stephane McLachlan, Gerald’s Master’s research project is focused on comparing the health and environmental impacts of hydroelectric developments in Southern and Northern Manitoba First Nations. As a visionary student, He intends to apply diverse GIS and Remote sensing technologies to better understand how health and the physical environment has changed due to hydro developments. The idea is to determine if Indigenous communities are fighting the same health and environmental impacts across Manitoba and to raise awareness across other Provinces in Canada experiencing the same impacts of hydro-projects.

About Amy Cherpako

Amy Cherpako is a graduate student in the Master of Human Rights program at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. She previously graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a BA in International Development Studies. Her primary research interest is the intersection between Indigenous rights and environmental justice, including Indigenous knowledge revitalization (TEK), participatory community development, and Two-Eyed Seeing.

More specifically, she is interested in the concept of legal personhood, or assigning legal rights to natural entities. Her research highlights how Indigenous peoples are often disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and exploitation, yet tend to be excluded from domestic and international environmental decision-making. She provides a comparison of anthropocentric, ecocentric, and Indigenous worldviews in the context of environmental sustainability, as well as an overview of the legal personhood movement around the world. She highlights that the legal personhood strategy has the potential to provide optimal environmental preservation, while uplifting Indigenous autonomy and promoting decolonization of natural resource protection.

During her practicum this summer at Wa Ni Ska Tan, she will connect her preliminary research to the Manitoba context, by learning from Indigenous communities who have successfully applied legal personhood. She plans to consult and learn from northern Indigenous communities to assess interest in this strategy, and initiate dialogue about gaining legal personhood for a river or lake in northern Manitoba.

About Dennis Anderson

Dennis Anderson is carrying out his master’s research in the Department of Native Studies at the U of M. He comes from Gillam and is a member of the Fox Lake Cree Nation.  He is studying the impact of the many hydro projects that have been constructed on his traditional territory.

Learn more about his research work here: Thesis_Summary_-_Dennis_Anderson

Completed Student Research

Victoria Grima
Andrea Sutherland
Rebecca Kingdon
Tanjina Tahsin
Caolan Barr
Jack Lovell
Joseph Dipple
Erin Yaremko

Victoria has completed her Master’s Degree. Her Master research project at the University of Manitoba applied GIS platforms and technologies to better understand and comprehend geographically the implications and effects of hydropower development impacts in Northern Manitoba for both affected natural environment and Indigenous communities. In this respect, this research study integrated spatial information technologies with Indigenous Traditional Environmental and Ecological Knowledge to:

  • identify and document changes through time of the hydro-associative environmental impacts on the profile of the waterways and their shorelines;
  • spatially document how hydro-associative environmental impacts have effected indigenous traditional cultural land-use and harvesting practices;
  • understand how the traditional land-use and harvesting practices have adapted to such impacts through time; and
  • analyze any noticeable geographical correlations.

The results achieved her research can be of great use at both local and regional decision-making levels: when it comes to existing and planned hydropower developments, in the establishment of environmentally sound resource management and in sustainable development practices in Manitoba.

Andrea Sutherland is an undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba pursuing a degree in Environmental Science. Under the guidance of Dr. Stéphane McLachlan, Andrea completed her research practicum exposing corporate mistruths and to pave the way for a sustainable energy future.  

She spent her summer (2021) researching greenwashing in Canadian hydropower firms. By reviewing media campaigns and press releases from several hydroelectric companies and cross-referencing them with related hearing transcripts and personal testimony, she identified instances where the companies’ words and actions are not in agreement. She is summarized her findings on Wa Ni Ska Tan’s blog and hopes to raise awareness about the extent and severity of greenwashing in Canadian media.

Rebecca Kingdon completed her Master of Environment in collaboration with Wa Ni Ska Tan, establishing an international alliance of hydro-impacted communities and allies. Her role in this project was to help facilitate and document the process as it unfolds over the next couple years.

At the time of her research she noted, the regional hydro-impacted alliances around the world and worked to build resistance against hydro and to assist communities already living with the impacts. This project aied an d was successful in bringing all these efforts together into one network as a means of sharing knowledge and resources. Through Sam Watch International, this project continues to create large-scale resistance and resilience building. Rebecca feels incredibly honoured and excited as she continues to be involved in this project beyond her Master’s research and looks forward to working in collaboration with community leaders from around the world.

Tanjina Tahsin came from Bangladesh to University of Manitoba’s Master of Environment program. She brought with her a B.S. (Honours) degree in Soil, Water and Environment from University of Dhaka.

During her Master’s degree from the same department she studied Environment as her major arena of focus and completed a thesis on contamination (heavy metals) of food (specifically vegetables), sources of contaminants, and networks in the food chain, as well as their effect on human health. From 2013 to 2015 she worked for an International NGO, International Fertilizer Development Center, focusing on innovative agricultural technology as well as rural development, focusing especially on women. During her work she has explored many monitoring tools (survey, interview and focus group discussions) based on project needs. Tanjina has also gained experience working with adolescents in an Adolescent Development Programme for BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh.

Under the supervision of Dr. Stephane McLachlan she will conducted her research which will focusing on the implications of hydro development for water quality and associated community concerns , especially with youth. She set up community based monitoring program through youth summer camps at various communities through the kis kin ha ma ki win program. Her research work continues to include both Traditional Knowledge (TK) and western environmental sciences in addressing community concerns.

Caolan’s thesis explored the impacts of a series of dams in Treaty 3 territories of Northwestern Ontario. The project examined how dispossession was produced for Anishinaabeg communities of Treaty 3 through interlocking processes of discourse, cultural production and the institutions of Canadian law. In Treaty 3, the foundation and justifications for hydro development were laid through a series of expeditions, travel narratives and legal decisions that facilitated Anishinaabeg dispossession. Charting the history of hydro development in Treaty 3, led Barr to argue that it relied on a number of interlocking discourses, stories and forms of legal and material violence and erasure. Further, this dispossession is structural to settler colonialism and the defining feature which ties a set of seemingly disparate histories and processes together in Treaty 3. Barr’s hope is that this work contributes to more robust understandings of Treaty 3’s history and the history of colonialism in Canada as a whole.

In Memory of Jack Lovell (June 11, 1958 ~ February 22, 2019)

Jack Lovell’s previous studies in sociology and Masters Degree in Rural Development at Brandon University explored inherent factors influencing the lives and economy of people and places in rural Manitoba. Jack’s Ph.D. research at the University of Manitoba took a multi-disciplinary approach to building localised economy focused upon an ‘alternative’ but pragmatic approach to Indigenous development. The research plan intended to be fully inclusive of traditional Cree cultural and spiritual values while implementing ‘cutting edge’ developmental theory. In conjunction with his educational process, Jack worked the past 11 years serving a remote rural region as an economic development officer. Having incorporated his diverse knowledge-base with the community leadership and Elders at Pickerel Narrows First Nation, his doctoral research program intended to reveal an effective, culturally appropriate pathway to building socio-economic capacity to this, and other northern Manitoba communities.

Jack is greatly missed and will be remembered fondly.

Joseph Dipple completed his Ph.D in the department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. He completed his M.A. at the U of M in Native Studies as well.

His research focused on the implications of the production of hydroelectricity on the gathering and hunting way of life in northern Manitoba. In particular, he worked with harvesters from Tataskweyak Cree Nations (Split Lake), Fox Lake Cree Nations, and South Indian Lake. Joseph has participated as a student since the beginning of the Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance. During the first year of the SSHRC funded project he participated as a co-editor of the Alliance newsletter. Additionally, he has participated in every annual gathering of the Alliance and worked with Dr. Stephane McLachlan on a funding proposal. Currently, Wa Ni Ska Tan is provided him with funding for his research on the land in northern Manitoba.

Erin Yaremko was enrolled a research year of the Joint Master’s program in History between the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Her previous research training was obtained through the University of Winnipeg’s Oral History Centre where she was trained in Oral History and the basics of Archiving. Erin views academia as a tool that allows her to better understand knowledge she has received from people she has volunteered and worked alongside throughout her life. Her research focus was on documenting the social impacts of hydroelectric development on two Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba.

Alongside her thesis research Erin worked in partnership with the communities of South Indian Lake (Pipon-na-piwin Cree Nation) and the Chemawawin Nation in the creation of community archives. The northern community archives project allows for the repatriation and accessibility of information for each community. Erin worked with both communities to grow each community archive to become a space for the further repatriation of information as well as artifacts. Erin is thankful for the Wa Ni Ska Tan: Alliance of Hydro Impacted Communities for without their generous funding and continual support her work in the north would not be as easily accessible. The Wa Ni Ska Tan: Alliance of Hydro Impacted Communities has especially assisted Erin in creating the social connections needed to create relationships with members of various northern communities in order to carry out her work.


Summer 2016

Our 2016 summer students were focused on getting our first annual youth camp in Norway House up and running, which was a monumental task!

Brianna Delaney
Lysette Neckoway
Megan Cromarty
Rayanna Seymour

Brianna Delaney worked to develop a photo voice project for the youth camp, created the youth camp t-shirts, and assisted in the creation of the youth camp schedule, registration, and event planning. She created and facilitated the photo voice presentation at the camp and taught the youth how to use the cameras distributed at the camp. The projects’ aim was to have participants document their experiences in Norway House during the youth camp and their perspectives of hydro impacts in the community. They were then invited to continue the project in their own communities, documenting the impacts of hydro on their lives in both Norway House and their own communities.

Lysette Neckoway was a summer student in 2016. She worked on planning our first youth camp, that took place in Norway House. Lysette focused on creating the youth camp schedule, contacting community members, and coordinating youth, elder and chaperone attendance. At the camp, Lysette accompanied youth in the sweat lodge and led a beading workshop. She shared her experiences and stories with the youth about Hydro impacts and aboriginal spirituality.  She worked diligently on the post camp evaluation, determining what went well and providing recommendations to improve future youth camps.

Megan Cromarty, a community youth from Norway House, worked closely with Wa Ni Ska Tan staff to coordinate the youth camp in Norway House. Her community knowledge and enthusiasm was crucial to the camp’s success. Megan worked tirelessly to find camp cooks, security, elders, and presenters for the youth camp. Megan spent months coordinating camp logistics and continued to help with youth camp activities between her own York Boat races and other competitions that were taking place that same week in the community.

Rayanna Seymour worked as a Research Assistant on Professor Aimée Craft’s project, Anishinaabe Nibi Inaakenogewin (water law). Over the summer, she organized the project, which started in 2012. She created a cohesive digital filing system that matched on paper. As this project is based on elders’ gatherings, Rayanna also transcribed the audio and hand-written notes from the gatherings. In addition, she researched Anishinaabe water law and/or water stories, creating an annotated bibliography for Prof. Craft. Throughout the summer, Rayanna took note of the different research themes that kept arising throughout her research and wrote a “reflection piece” at the end of the summer for Prof. Craft outlining these themes with summaries of the stories and teachings that fell under each theme.

Summer 2017

Our 2017 summer students worked on a variety of projects including organizing our youth camp, archiving and documentation, communications, and water quality sampling.

Cody Blacksmith
Ema Coleman
Emily Unger
Hasini Fernando
Mary Louise Soldier
Robin Neckoway

Cody Blacksmith is a 25 year old Winnipeg based filmmaker. He originally emerged from the swampy lands of Pimicikamak Cree Nation, also known as Cross Lake, Manitoba. He studied film at the University of Winnipeg. Cody earned his Bachelor of Arts in film in 2016. Cody is a current member of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Filmmakers Collective.

Cody spent this past summer working with youth and the community of his original home, Cross Lake, through a documentary training program under the supervision of Aaron Goldman. Cody attended the Spring Gathering in Norway House along with his Grandfather Jackson Osborne, Aaron and various youth from Cross Lake.  He worked with Aaron during Cross Lake’s Indian and Treaty Days and helped capture through film traditional and modern activities to share with the people of the present and future, as well as people outside of the community.

Ema Coleman, a visiting International Studies student from Indiana University worked on a variety of projects as a summer student in 2017. In addition to assisting with the Nelson House youth camp coordination, she handled logistics around accommodations and transportation for our spring gathering in Norway House. Ema reviewed the audio transcripts from our previous gatherings, pulling out themes and valuable information to use in future events, meetings, and research. She also read through and analyzed new research proposals, producing simplified summaries for our various communications.

Emily Unger worked on various communications projects as a summer student in 2017. She worked with Ema Coleman on coordinating logistics for the Nelson House Youth Camp, and together they also developed Who’s Got the Power? (formerly known as Let’s Build A Dam), a role playing game that allows youth to learn about the impacts of hydro development. She took photos for our annual spring gathering and youth camp, and worked on our post event evaluations. Emily also assisted in the development of our calendar, and has been working on a variety of projects on our website.

Hasini Fernando moved from Sri Lanka to study Environmental Chemistry at the University of Manitoba. She is passionate about water research and began working with Wa Ni Ska Tan this past summer. She started a community based project with Tataskweyak Cree Nation (Split Lake) focused on keeping a record of water quality in the lake and a few houses over the course of two years. She collected samples from various houses and the lake. Hasini is planning another visit to train TCN youth on the procedures of sample collection. Under Dr. Stéphane McLachlan’s guidance, she is working on documenting her research regarding northern communities’ water quality and analyzing the data over two years.

Mary Louise Soldier, also known as Maddie is from Swan Lake First Nation. She is  currently attending the University of Manitoba, in their University 1 program, and plans on taking Environmental Sciences in the future. For the summer of 2017 she worked with Dr. Jarvis Brownlie and graduate student Erin Yaremko on oral history research, which gave her the opportunity to go up north to South Indian Lake for the first time.

Robin Neckoway worked under the supervision of Prof. Jarvis Brownlie to contribute to the archiving and documentation project for Wa Ni Ska Tan. Over the summer he created an inventory of oral interviews already completed with community members. Robin also worked to produce summaries of interview content and subjects addressed in the interviews. He created an archive and summary of internet transcripts of submissions at the public inquiries into Hydro by the CEC and PUB, especially those from community members, but also from academics associated with Wa Ni Ska Tan. Robin also began to canvass existing oral history projects held at the Manitoba Archives and the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg.

Summer 2018

Our 2018 summer students worked on a variety of projects including preparing for the National Energy board hearings on MMTP, organizing events, archiving and documentation, communications, and filmmaking.

Bobbie Mang’eli
Carrington Houser
Katie Yegorov-Crate (Volunteer)

Bobbie Mang’eli was a co-op student with us this summer. She worked on defining set goals and strategies for the existing Communication Strategy. She also reviewed transcripts and worked on the upcoming Voices of Resistance project and the upcoming Swan Lake First Nation’s community based monitoring project. The long term goal of the community monitoring project is to promote ‘capacity exchange’ where communities and researchers work together to share the knowledge each of the groups have, and  to have the research done in communities driven by members of the communities who live in them, using their knowledge to identify environmental issues and monitor them scientifically. She is happy to have had all the opportunities to travel and see Manitoba but more importantly to meet people, interact with them and learn from them.

Carrington Houser was a graduate student summer intern from Indiana University studying international studies and climate change. He mainly worked on developing and refining our interactive game that focuses on showing the effects of hydro development on Indigenous communities. He also worked on press releases, communication, outreach, and planning for David Bighetty’s walk for Granville Lake, as well as covering the NEB Hearings that took place in June. He is beyond grateful for the opportunity to have visited Canada, travel, and work alongside the people at Wa Ni Ska Tan. He is also grateful to have had the opportunity to interact with the Indigenous peoples of Manitoba to not only hear their stories, but also to learn about their practices and customs.

Katie was a summer student volunteer with Wa Ni Ska Tan and spent most of her time collaborating on the organization of David Bighetty’s awareness walk “Walk for Granville Lake”. She assisted in interviewing Bighetty and capturing film footage for the in-the-works documentary project “Voices of Resistance”. She also helped in writing letters to publicize Bighetty’s “Walk for Granville Lake” and helped at Wa Ni Ska Tan’s booth at the West Broadway Farmers’ Market. Additionally, Katie worked on culling through transcripts from Indigenous community gatherings, panels, and discussions Wa Ni Ska Tan has previously been involved in, selecting quotes and highlighting themes of resilience and resistance for the project.

Highlights of Katie’s summer were volunteering at and attending the 2018 Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit and traveling north to Thompson and Leaf Rapids.

Summer 2019

Our 2019 summer students worked on and helped with a variety of projects including environmental policy reviews, Public Utilities Board awareness campaigns, Ki Ta Ski Naw conference planning and Kis Kin Ha Ma Ki Win Science camp volunteering.

Karlee Lemus
Mathew Scammel

Karlee Lemus was a co-op student through the Environmental Studies program at the University of Manitoba. Her focus is on policy & law and biology and would in the future, she seeks to pursue a career as an environmental lawyer, focusing primarily on the relationships between Indigenous people and the land. Over the summer she carried out environmental policy reviews in the hopes of compiling plain language versions of policies. She also helped with the Kis Kin Ha Ma Ki Win camps providing volunteer support throughout the summer. Her highlight over the summer was encouraging Indigenous youth to build a stronger relationship within their community incorporating land, water and cultural teachings.

Mathew is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Global Political Economy, after first finishing a degree in Environmental Science. He has been working with Wa Ni Ska Tan since the summer of 2019 and has worked on various projects such as an archiving project in Grand Rapids, organizing for the conference in Fall 2019, and producing promotional material for Wa Ni Ska Tan. Mathew is especially interested in how environmental and social justice have been affected by hydro development in Manitoba, and plans to continue studying this at university.

Summer 2020

Our 2020 summer students worked on and helped with a variety of projects including identifying green-washing and highlighting feasibility of alternative energy and developing learning modules for Kis Kin Ha Ma Ki Win Science camps.

Cliff Dano
Jessica Bound
Jade Hamelin

Cliff Dano is currently a second year undergraduate student in the University of Manitoba’s Engineering Access Program (ENGAP). He has been working with Wa Ni Ska Tan since summer 2020 in the role of Energy Alternatives Research Assistant. He has a background in Electrical Engineering Technology, graduating with a diploma from Red River College in 2010 and has worked in the power distribution and  technical service industry for 6 years. Cliff is a band member of the Fisher River Cree Nation and is of Ojibwe, Cree and Lithuanian descent. Raised on the Waterhen River, Cliff developed his passion for the outdoors while spending time on the land and ice fishing with his father. In his free time, he also enjoys reading, self-care practices and spending time with family & friends.

Jessica Bound is an M.A. student in the faculty of English, Film, Theatre and Media at the University of Manitoba. She received her B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in June 2018 and is currently working on her SSHRC-funded creative writing thesis under the supervision of Dr. Warren Cariou. Jessica has been working with Wa Ni Ska Tan since summer 2020 as a student research assistant for the Energy Alternatives subcommittee, which has her gathering information on the different types of alternative energy projects that are currently being developed in various Indigenous communities across the globe. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys reading, playing video games, and attending music festivals.

Hello, my given name is Jade Hamelin, and my spirit name is The Looking Through White Wolf Woman. I’m from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, and I’m currently an undergraduate student at the University of Winnipeg. I’m currently in the Integrated Education Program working towards a Bachelor of Science and Education, with a major in biology. In the future, I would like to become a teacher who is able to incorporate land teachings to my students that will help them make deeper connections to the material, indigenous culture, and also with Mother Earth. In my free time, I love any activity that can be done outdoors, especially running and hiking. My love for nature has motivated me to learn more about sustainability and practice it in my everyday life. As an Indigenous person from a hydro impacted First Nation, I hope to help create more awareness for environmental injustice facing indigenous peoples in our own communities and be a part of the solution.

Summer 2022

Our summer 2022 students at the University of Manitoba, explored a range of topics including the impacts of hydropower production, the health and environmental impacts of hydro dams, and the intersection of Indigenous rights and environmental justice.  These diverse research projects demonstrate the wide-ranging significance of issues related to sustainability, Indigenous rights, and environmental justice.

Gerald Beta
Soumic Simanto
Amy Cherpako
Bobbie Mangeli

Gerald is an environmental masters student at the University of Manitoba, his research is on the impacts of hydro dams on the health and environment of northern Manitoba communities. Working with the Wa Ni Ska Tan alliance, Gerald uses GIS and remote sensing to study the pre and post-flooding events at South Indian Lake and Split Lake.

Summer Student Focus: Exploring the Health and Environmental Impacts of Hydro Dams in Manitoba

Soumic’s research is on the impacts that hydropower production has on Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba and Bangladesh. As a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba, Soumic is dedicated to identifying the issues related to hydropower production and finding solutions for sustainable development.

Summer Student Focus – Sustainable development and hydropower

Amy is a graduate student in the University of Manitoba’s master of human rights program. Her research is on the intersection of Indigenous rights and environmental justice. With a focus on legal personhood, indigenous knowledge revitalization, and participatory community development, Amy’s work examines the connections between diverse Indigenous perceptions of the natural world and legal rights for natural entities. During her practicum placement with Wa Ni Ska Tan, Amy explores these concepts in the context of Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba.

Summer Student Focus: Exploring the Intersection of Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice

Bobbie is an international graduate student from Kenya. Her research is on the federally funded land guardians program. Bobbie’s work focuses on building bridges between communities who have yet to join the program and those who are already a part of it, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experiences.

Summer Student Focus: Examining Indigenous Land Conservation methods