I began my PhD studies in 2005 knowing I wanted to study concepts of Indigenous governance and self-determination. I knew my journey would not be easy; we live after all in harsh colonial times. The Indian Act is still in effect and by its very nature subjugates and oppresses Indigenous governance and empowerment. In abiding by an Indigenous Research methodology, I was able to come to understand and begin to document what it takes to be self-determining and shed light on true Indigenous governing principles while living under a colonial regime. Abiding by an Indigenous Research methodology meant I had to “live” my research, tell my story from a decolonized mind, body and spirit, learn from Stó:lō epistemologies and above all make sure my research could lend its voice to change and Indigenous empowerment. My research therefore is as much about my journey in decolonization and empowerment as it is about understanding Indigenous governing principles. My journey was guided by the teachings of Xexá:ls and therefore is inextricably linked to Stó:lō territory, ontology and epistemology. Behind the colonial barricade, I discovered Stó:lō governing principles provided within our cultural teachings and transformations throughout our territory that speak to the power of place, the importance of women, the laws of our ancestors and the title to territory embedded within our sxwōxwiyám and ancestral names. It is now 2012 and the timing is right to begin to change, to transform colonial relations of Indigenous disempowerment, disease and disconnection. The time is right to return to our teachings of Xexá:ls and our governing principle of “all our relations.”
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Thesis advisor: Palys, Ted
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