Celebrating Excellence

Faculty of Graduate Studies

Celebrating Excellence


Jennifer Brant, PhD student Educational Studies
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship
Graduate supervisor: Dr. Michelle McGinn

Jennifer’s research story

My current research extends the work that I completed in my master’s program by looking at the barriers that Aboriginal women face in mainstream university programs and offered recommendations for programming that would offset barriers and align with the expressed educational desires of Aboriginal women.

I was able to use my research to inform the development of the Gidayaamin Aboriginal Women’s Certificate Program offered here at Brock. This program will now become the basis of my doctoral research as I assess the impact that culturally specific curriculum and holistic support has on cultural identity formation and student success. Not only is my research close to my heart and very personal but it is also very important because education, considered the new buffalo by some Aboriginal leaders, is a contemporary means of survival. To emphasize this point I would like to share with you the alarming statistics that express an Aboriginal woman’s position in Canada:

As an Aboriginal woman:
I belong to the unhealthiest group in the country. I can anticipate a life-expectancy rate that is ten years less than that of other women in Canada. I am likely to earn 30% less than non-Aboriginal women. I belong to a group in which my position is exceedingly disadvantaged “by every common measure of poverty, such as income, educational attainment, incidence of disease, and life expectancy."

My driving goal as a Doctoral student is to use my work to change these realities. It must be done through education that is accessible, flexible and accommodating to the needs of Aboriginal Mothers, but beyond this, curriculum must be meaningful and culturally relevant so that our realities, histories, and contemporary visions are honoured and reflected.

With this goal guiding my research, evaluation of the Gidayaamin Program will inform future development and best practices to ensure the unique and specific needs of Aboriginal women are embraced as educational opportunities that will not only change our statistical indicators but will also support the entire well-being of families and communities. As the first teachers of our future generations, the advancement of Aboriginal women in Canada, through education, will ultimately promote the development of stronger, healthier, empowered and “culturally vibrant” communities.

Graduate Awards and the Brock experience

I am so honoured to have my research supported by the SSHRC. Of course the financial support will be invaluable to my research needs and allow for more focus and time to be placed on my studies but it is also means so much to have my research recognized nationally. This level of support will enhance my academic credentials as an academic and allow me to attend educational conferences where I can continue to advocate for the educational realities of Aboriginal women.

Jennifer Brant, centre, with from left, Michelle Przedborski, right, and Kevin M
Graduate Student Award Winners

Jennifer Brant, centre, with from left, Michelle Przedborski, right, and Kevin MacDonald