Dr. Crystal Gail Fraser has become the first-ever Gwichyà Gwich’in to earn a doctorate degree in history.
She successfully defended her thesis on Friday, September 20 and will be graduating from the University Of Alberta (Faculty of Arts, Department of History & Classics) this semester.
Dr. Fraser is originally from Inuvik and Dachan Choo Ge ̨̀hnjik, Northwest Territories. She is the granddaughter of Marka Andre and Richard Bullock. She currently lives on Treaty 6, homeland of the Métis Nation and is learning Dinjii Zhuh Ginjik with her daughter, as part of the #speakgwichintome campaign. Hotıì ts’eeda has been pleased to work with Dr. Fraser over the past few years on the Healthy Family Program research project and host her and daughter Quinn at the annual Ełèts’ehdèe Gathering.
Dr. Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, is the Scientific Director, with Hotıì ts’eeda.
“Dr. Fraser has undertaken important research and analysis of residential schooling and its impacts for Indigenous individuals in the Northwest Territories,” Dr. Irlbacher-Fox said. “Her work constitutes a substantial contribution to her scholarly field, and to ongoing national civil society and policy conversations about reconciliation, resurgence and restoration of Indigenous governance authorities.”
Dr. Fraser is part of a growing cohort of Indigenous northerners with advanced academic degrees and a commitment to Indigenous resurgence, which will lead to Northern research truly reflecting values and priorities of Indigenous people and communities, Dr. Irlbacher-Fox says.
“On behalf of Hotıì ts’eeda, I offer her heartfelt congratulations,” Dr. Irlbacher-Fox said. “I look forward to her significant contributions to the NWT research landscape.”
Dr. Fraser says this project could not have happened without the guidance and support of northerners.
“I sought to practice community-engaged research and through my extensive interviews and strengthening relationships, I was able to present a history of residential schooling in Nanhkak Thak (or the Inuvik Region). We already know that Indian Residential Schools in Canada were guided by oppressive colonial policies, but I wanted to add more nuance to that understanding,” Dr. Frazer said. “Under the direction of Gwich’in Elders and other mentors, I examined how our people continued to be strong in spite of these hardships. I used three Gwich’in notions of strength – t’aih, vit’aih, and guut’àii – as a main theoretical premise in my historical study of Inuvik’s Stringer and Grollier Halls between the years of 1959 and 1996.”