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CIKL Leadership Team

Dr. Deborah McGregor

Director (on leave Winter 2023)

Dr. Deborah McGregor (Anishinaabe), Principal Investigator, holds the Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice. She is cross appointed to Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University. Dr. McGregor's research has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental justice, forest policy, and management, and sustainable development. Her research has been published in a variety of national and international journals and she has delivered numerous public and academic presentations relating to Indigenous knowledge systems, governance and sustainability. She co-edited Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy: Insights for a Global Age with Mario Blaser, Ravi De Costa, and William Coleman (2010). She is co-editor (with Alan Corbiere, Mary Ann Corbiere and Crystal Migwans) of the Anishinaabewin conference proceedings series. Prior to joining Osgoode, Professor McGregor was an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto and served as Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives and the Aboriginal Studies program. She has also served as Senior Policy Advisor, Aboriginal Relations at Environment Canada-Ontario Region. In addition to such posts, Dr. McGregor remains actively involved in a variety of Indigenous communities, serving as an advisor and continuing to engage in community-based research and initiatives. In 2021, she was the co-recipient (along with Dr. Angele Alook) of York University's Catalyzing Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (CIRC) Grant for "Indigenous Climate Leadership and Self-Determined Futures."

Dr. Sean Hillier

Interim Director

Dr. Sean Hillier is a queer Mi’kmaw scholar from the Qalipu First Nation. He is an Assistant Professor at the School of Health Policy & Management & Special Advisor to the Dean on Indigenous Resurgence in the Faculty of Health at York University. He is also the Chair of the Indigenous Council at York and is Co-Chair of the Working Group on Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous racism in the Faculty of Health. Additionally, Dr. Hiller is a Board Member of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT). He is a former CIHR doctoral scholar in the area of Indigenous Peoples living with HIV. His collaborative research program spans the topics of aging, living with HIV and other infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistance, all with a concerted focus on policy affecting health care access for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. He continues to work in the area of HIV research and is an Investigator with the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network. Dr. Hillier is also a Principal Investigator and Executive Team member on the CIHR funded project entitled: One Health Network for the Global Governance of Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance, where he leads the work plan related to equity and diversity ($2.0 million). He is also an Investigator and Executive Team member for the SSHRC funded research project: Imagining Age-Friendly ’communities within communities’ ($2.5 million). He conducts community based and engaged research with a focus on Indigenous methodologies and ways of knowing and being. Professor Hiller has taught extensively in the areas of Indigenous Health, Social Determinants of Health, Indigenous Law, and Sexuality & Gender. An advocate for human rights and equality, he aims to bring greater information to the general public regarding both Indigenous Peoples and LGBTQ issues. He is also the former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Pride Toronto and WorldPride 2014 Toronto.

Dr. Brock Pitawanakwat

Associate Director

Dr. Brock Pitawanakwat is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and is the Coordinator of the Indigenous Studies Program at York University. He is a proud Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation. In 2013, Dr. Pitawanakwat was an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Sudbury’s Department of Indigenous Studies. Prior to this, he worked as a researcher with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and held two academic appointments as an Assistant Professor, Graduate Chair, and Acting Director of the Aboriginal Governance Program at the University of Winnipeg and as an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies at First Nations University of Canada. Additionally, his MA thesis looked at Indigenous political movements in southern Mexico and his PhD dissertation explored language revitalization efforts of the Anishinaabeg in Manitoba and Ontario. Currently, Dr. Pitawanakwat’s research interests include Indigenous language revitalization, health, history, labour and politics.

Dr. Nathalie LaCoste Ling

CIKL Coordinator

Nathalie LaCoste Ling is a white settler and has been the Coordinator of CIKL since December 2021. She has a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto and has published on Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman period. She is interested in questions around identity and how identity is formed specifically through narrative. She has also taught courses in ancient Judaism since 2014. She grew up in Mississauga, on the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Currently she lives in East Gwillimbury on the traditional territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe peoples. She has worked at the University of Toronto, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Queen’s College Faculty of Theology. She has experience as a program manager, academic editor, and in university fundraising. She volunteers as the T-Holder representative on the Council for Athletics and Recreation at the University of Toronto. She lives with her partner Dave and two daughters. She is a former competitive swimmer and enjoys baking in her spare time.