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Tricky Grounds - Indigenous Women's Experiences in Canadian University Administration

Tricky Grounds

Indigenous Women's Experiences in Canadian University Administration

Paperback : 9780889779778, 320 pages, January 2024
Hardcover : 9780889779808, 320 pages, January 2024
Print to order. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.


Breaks the deafening silence of Indigenous women’s voices in academic leadership positions.

Since the 2015 release of the report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, new Indigenous policies have been enacted in universities and a variety of interconnecting Indigenous senior administrative roles have been created. Many of these newly created roles have been filled by Indigenous women. But what does it mean for Indigenous women to be recruited to Indigenize Western institutions that have not undergone introspective, structural change?
Informed by her own experiences and the stories of other Indigenous women working in senior administrative roles in Canadian universities, Candace Brunette-Debassige explores the triple-binding position Indigenous women often find themselves trapped in when trying to implement reconciliation in institutions that remain colonial, Eurocentric, and male-dominated. The author considers too the gendered, emotional labour Indigenous women are tasked with when universities rush to Indigenize without the necessary preparatory work of decolonization.
Drawing on an Indigenous feminist decolonial theoretical lens and positioning Indigenous story as theory, Brunette-Debassige illustrates how Indigenous women can and do preserve and enact their agency through resistance, and help lead deeper transformative changes in Canadian universities. Ultimately, her work provides a model for how reconciliation and Indigenization can be done at an institutional level.


“This book helped me make sense of the ‘trickiness’ of my own experiences as an Indigenous woman in Canadian universities.”
Kim Anderson, University of Guelph

“Brunette-Debassige illustrates the competing and conflicting tensions and expectations of Indigenous women in university administrative positions, where the mandate to ‘Indigenize’ their university runs up against the reality of colonial institutions' reluctance to change non-inclusive, inequitable structures and systems.” —Jacqueline Ottmann, First Nations University of Canada

“…a must read bookrevealing senior Indigenous women leaders’ in universities struggle for greater accountabilities, responsibilities, and ethical care from Eurocentric post-secondary institutions in the pursuit of decolonization, reconciliation and Indigenization.”
Dr. Marie Battiste, Special Advisor to VP Academic, Cape Breton University

“In her must-read book, Candace Brunette-Debassige gives light to the complexities of the embodied experience of Indigenous women leaders in higher education as they navigate the precarious terrain of Canadian universities. This book casts light on Indigenous leadership positions largely held by Indigenous women that are too often stymied by tokenization. Within a university culture that explicitly and complicitly reproduces racial and gender marginalization, this engaging work meets the moment as Canadian universities reckon with what it means to share senior administration leadership power in decolonizing higher education. Animated through story and written with compassion and confidence, this book is a call for change.”
Margaret Kovach, author of Indigenous Methodologies

"As an Indigenous woman in university administration, I am inspired by this book. Brunette-Debasassige helps me to see that I am not alone in challenges that I face and encourages me to lead from my unapologetic Two-Spirit lens, as an act of resistance necessary to advance the transformation necessary in Canadian universities."
Lori Campbell, Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Engagement, University of Regina.