Anthropologist studies Indigenous land use

Globalink intern at Lakehead University works with two Northern Ontario First Nations to record historical land use and occupancy

“I have always been interested in anthropology, particularly Indigenous ethnography, and how certain forces are trying to homogenize them. The researcher plays a critical role in these kinds of studies, as he or she needs to experience these communities by being in them,” she explains. “Anthropology exists in the space where one culture collides with another.” She’s putting that passion to work at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

With considerable knowledge of Brazil’s Indigenous communities, Clara was given the chance to apply that knowledge in a Canadian context, thanks to Dr. Frederico Oliveira at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. A Brazilian himself, he reached out to colleagues at UFRJ to encourage their students to apply for Mitacs’ Globalink Research Internship. Clara was excited to apply her knowledge to North America, so she applied — and was accepted — to Dr. Oliveira’s project.

Clara’s research involves a comprehensive account of land use and occupancy relationships for the Lac Seul and Slate Falls First Nations, both Anishinabe (Ojibwa) communities in Northern Ontario. Cataloguing these relationships now will provide a rigorous account of historical land use, occupancy, and proof of its spiritual, environmental, and cultural value to the residents. Moreover, they will follow communities’ expressed priorities and assist Lac Seul and Slate Falls to build a more autonomous scenario when negotiating resource management and land rights claims.

Part of the project involves fieldwork, so Clara and members of her research team will be heading to Lac Seul and Slate Falls before her internship concludes in September.

Our team includes a cultural anthropologist, a geographer, and an archeologist, so it will be a truly multidisciplinary experience,” she says.

“One of my favourite quotes is from anthropologist Ruth Benedict,” Clara explains. “She says that ‘The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.’ And that’s our research goal here at Lakehead.” With her passion for ethnography and graduate school ambitions, Clara will no doubt play a role in advancing this purpose.


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Globalink Research Internship in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support Globalink, including Universities Australia, the China Scholarship Council, Campus France, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education,Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord. 

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