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Robyn Rowe: Indigenous Scholar and PhD Candidate


Headshot of Robyn Rowe smilingRobyn Rowe is a member of Matachewan First Nation with familial roots on Bear Island, Temagami First Nation. She is a mother of four and a third-year Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Rural and Northern Health program. She completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology in 2015, and obtained a Masters of Indigenous Relations in 2017, both at Laurentian University. During her masters, Robyn completed research which explored the experiences of First Nations mothers attending post-secondary. She has since received a publishing deal based on her Master’s work and will be releasing a book in the Fall of 2020.

Robyn is currently a sessional professor for the School of Indigenous Relations and a research associate on Dr. Jennifer Walker’s team in the School of Rural and Northern Health.

In 2018, Robyn became the first Indigenous scholar at ICES to receive an Indigenous Mentorship Network Scholarship. This scholarship is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to provide culturally relevant learning opportunities and tailored mentoring to emerging early-career Indigenous researchers. In 2019, Robyn was awarded a 3-year Frederick Banting and Charles Best Doctoral Award from CIHR for her Ph.D. work. Her Ph.D. work is on Indigenous data sovereignty, which is being developed in partnership with the Chiefs of Ontario and other international Indigenous data leaders. The Frederick Banting and Charles Best Doctoral Awards provide special recognition and support to students who are pursuing a doctoral degree in a health-related field in Canada.

Robyn recently collaborated with her Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Walker, on a paper entitled “Describing the process of ethical conduct of research in an Ontario-wide First Nations diabetes research project” which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Additionally, Robyn and Dr. Walker travelled to Botswana and presented a poster on the use of respectful data sovereignty principles, “Walking the Path of the Turtle: Respectful Data Governance Practices in a First Nations Project in Ontario, Canada” during International Data Week 2018.

As an Anishinaabekwe (First Nations woman), it is important to Robyn that her work benefits Indigenous peoples, and she is working with community partners to form a strong Ph.D. proposal. The intended goal of her research is to inform the current landscape on Indigenous Data Sovereignty in Canada and influence powerful policies that can be brought forward to government bodies to influence change at a systemic level.