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CIKL Leadership Team

Dr. Sean Hillier

Interim Director

Dr. Sean Hillier is a Mi’kmaw scholar (member of the Qalipu First Nation). He is an associate professor and  York Research Chair in Indigenous Health Policy & One Health in the Faculty of Health at York University. Sean sits on the National Interagency Panel on Research Ethics. His collaborative research program spans the topics of aging, living with HIV and other infectious diseases, and One Health - all with a concerted focus on policy affecting health care access for Indigenous Peoples. Dr. Hillier has been successful in receiving funding from each of the three federal granting agencies and is the current Inaugural Associate Director of the $318 million research project, Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy Just Society.

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. Dean Ray


Dr. Dean Ray is the new coordinator for the Centre of Indigenous Knowledges and Languages. He is a settler-scholar who works in partnership with Indigenous communities. His research focuses on building ethical relationships with Indigenous Peoples and understanding how these communities create, maintain, and grow organizations. Dean is a language learner and speaker, spending five years learning Nłeʔkepmxcín from elders in the Nicola Valley region of British Columbia. He is excited by the mission of the centre and to work with scholars here at York to further Indigenous resurgence and decolonization.