The following description of the work conducted by the Métis Research Lab was provided by Dr. Brenda Macdougall, Director of the Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies (2019-present), in June 2022.
My original position was as the Chair in Métis Research, a provincially endowed research chair which supported the creation of a decades long research program that resulted in the construction of the , an online, publicly accessible, digital archive co-created and curated by myself and Drs. Mike Evans (UBC-Okanagan), Nicole St-Onge (uOttawa), and Ramon Lawrence (UBC-Okanagan). This work involved collecting and transcribing historical records: census data, sacramental records, fur trade materials, treaty documents, stragglers lists, half-breed rolls, and petitions. This research has employed approximately fifty undergraduate and graduate students and has trained them in historical research methods and how to apply best practices related to primary record collection and data transcription. My work via the DADproject fundamentally contributes to scholarly research that seeks to identify the contours of a community within a geographic region.
After completing two terms as the Chair in Métis Research I was awarded a University Research Chair. The URC in Métis Family and Community Traditions focuses on how Métis people historically configured and lived their connections to one another. The research is historical in nature as it draws on archival materials but dives into the field of digital humanities through social network analysis and historical GIS (geographic information systems) analyses and outputs. The URC in Métis Family and Community Traditions continues to investigate the relationship between a people and their territory by seeking to understand how 19th-century Métis kinscapes—relational constellations spread throughout an expansive geographic area—acted as epicentres of Plains Métis cultural florescence and sense of nationhood. By analyzing how Plains Métis buffalo hunters, called Otipaimsiwauk (people who were their own bosses) in Cree, articulated their sense of self through an array of social and political actions, this work provides new insights into the evolution and qualities of their nationhood.