An academic researcher says imposed systems of colonial governance have not worked well for Indigenous people and it is time to look at the policies First Nations people used themselves, prior to European contact.

Cassandra Opikokew, a PhD student in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina, has been given a $108,000 research grant to study traditional Aboriginal policy in the areas of health and education.

She says that doing primary research in this area will certainly pose challenges but with the help of various communities to serve as guides, she does not perceive the task to be insurmountable.

“One of the main challenges I am expecting to have is one,¬†language¬†— having to travel to four different countries and working with different Indigenous groups means that there’ll be different languages I am going to come in contact with, there’ll be different cultural protocols and ways of doing things that I am going to have to learn and understand,” she says. “So, I am really going to be reliant on communities to guide me in terms of what they want to share with me.”

Opikokew, who is a member of the Canoe Lake Cree Nation, plans to look at traditional Indigenous policies in Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

The grant has been given by the Canadian Institute of Health Research.