By Shannon Boklaschuk
Dr. Emily Snyder (PhD) will serve as acting vice-dean Indigenous in the College of Arts and Science for a one-year term.
Snyder’s appointment began on Sept. 1, 2021, and will continue until Aug. 31, 2022. She is a faculty member in the Department of Indigenous Studies and in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). Her research, teaching, administrative service, and engagement work on the USask campus, and beyond, focuses on decolonial feminist work in the area of Indigenous legal studies.
As a faculty member and researcher, Snyder is committed to decolonial and intersectional approaches to post-secondary education.
“Over the past several years I have been involved in many of the initiatives that have come out of the Vice-Dean Indigenous Office, and I am keen to spend the next year closely supporting and growing those initiatives,” she said.
Snyder was appointed to the acting vice-dean Indigenous role after the former vice-dean Indigenous, Dr. Angela Jaime (PhD), was appointed as USask’s interim vice-provost Indigenous engagement. Jaime’s secondment to that role began on Sept. 1.
Snyder, a white settler who was raised in Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg territories/the Waterloo region in southern Ontario, received her Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree in criminology from Saint Mary’s University in 2004. She then completed her Master of Arts degree in sociology at Carleton University in 2006 and her PhD in sociology at the University of Alberta in 2014.
Prior to joining the Department of Indigenous Studies at USask in 2016 as an assistant professor, Snyder served as a lecturer in legal studies at the University of Waterloo and was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) post-doctoral fellow with the Indigenous Law Research Unit in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria.
Snyder is the author of the book Gender, Power, and Representations of Cree Law (UBC Press) and has published in journals such as the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Journal of Indigenous HIV Research, Canadian Journal of Law and Society, UBC Law Review, Alberta Law Review, Dalhousie Law Journal, and the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law.
She served briefly as acting head of the Department of Indigenous Studies in the College of Arts and Science before being appointed as acting vice-dean Indigenous.
Over the next year, Snyder plans to work collaboratively with others in the College of Arts and Science to ensure the continuation of existing initiatives, such as establishing the Centre for Indigenous Scholarship. She will also work closely with Dr. Sandy Bonny (PhD), team lead for Indigenous Student Achievement Pathways (ISAP) and STEM access initiatives, to continue growing ISAP’s programming.
“Prior to this acting role, I had the opportunity to work with ISAP students when teaching Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies, and I always enjoyed learning with the students. It is exciting to now be a part of shaping the broader programming beyond one course,” said Snyder.
“I will also be working with others to offer virtual talks and discussion groups for the Dimensions in Diversity series that vice-deans Angela Jaime and Valerie Korinek, and executive assistants Vanessa Hyggen and Jessica Klein, started last year. The recruitment and retention of Indigenous students, staff, and faculty is also a critical part of the work of the Vice-Dean Indigenous Office.”
The acting vice-dean Indigenous role is a key member of the college’s leadership team and is a key liaison with the interim vice-provost Indigenous engagement’s office. Snyder said the acting vice-dean Indigenous role is also essential “for advocating decolonization, and critical engagement with reconciliation and Indigenization, in all aspects of the college, including in classrooms, boardrooms, and research.”
“This role is vital, as it includes actively working to unsettle a long history of institutional norms pervasive in post-secondary institutions, which have marginalized Indigenous people and knowledge systems, along with other knowledges,” she said.
“This position is also an opportunity to champion working together as a college to support and meaningfully engage the amazing work done by Indigenous students, staff, faculty, community members, and scholars—not only to recognize and learn from that work, but to reflect on how it can inform structural change.
“As a white settler in this interim role, it is also vital to work with non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty to think deeply about the ways that settler colonialism and systemic racism operate on campus and to promote ethical ways of being together on campus and in community.”