Land-based art camp wins Poundmaker student Bombardier award
- Michelle Lerat | July 30, 2020
Alexandra Nordstrom of Poundmaker Cree Nation is the proud recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada graduate doctoral scholarship.
The scholarship grants Nordstrom $105,000 over three years to complete her Ph.D. research project.
Nordstrom is currently completing her Masters of Arts in Art History at Concordia University in Montreal. She is set to graduate this fall and will begin the Inter-university Ph.D. program in Art History at Concordia.
Nordstrom has done installation projects such as one paying tribute to Cree Chief Poundmaker.
Her passion is working with Indigenous youth through the arts. The title of her Ph.D. project is Land Based Learning & the Arts: Indigenous Worldviews in Curriculum and Pedagogical Practice.
She was shocked when she heard that she had received the scholarship.
“I was so excited to tell my family,” she said. “It makes me very proud. I have been working hard so it felt good.
Nordstrom is still considering what research model to use. She would like to incorporate what she learned during a project she and a friend organized last summer for the youth of Poundmaker First Nation.
In 2019 Nordstrom and her friend co-created a land-based summer arts program for the children of her community and surrounding First Nations communities. The program focused on arts, culture, and environmental sustainability from an Indigenous perspective and worldview.
“When my friend, Janay Fox, and I first dreamt up the idea for our camp we envisioned how the framework for this idea could be extremely powerful in bringing young people from all backgrounds together. It could really serve as a means to break down barriers and to empower young people to start meaningful and sustainable dialogues.”
Nordstrom saw how the youth responded positively to the program when they were involved in what they were learning and where culture and Indigenous knowledge was the core. She saw an increase in mood, relationship, openness to sharing and self-expression and mentorship between the youth. There was also a decline in stress and interpersonal conflict.
Nordstrom says the experience gave her the idea to develop an Arts Education curriculum that takes into account land-based education for youth that’s culturally appropriate and influenced by Indigenous worldviews.
“I’d like to create this program and this research around my own community and the histories and knowledges [there] but I hope that this can be used as a framework for other people to do that for their own communities or expand it in some other way,” she said.
“I was extremely happy, proud, and amazed,” said Carlin Nordstrom, Alexandra Nordstrom’s father. “It’s good to see that all of her hard work is paying off and she’s going to be a role model for Indigenous youth going forward.”
Nordstrom says she hopes her work will allow Indigenous youth to have a say in what they will learn and to create a platform for them to feel empowered in their Indigeneity, their communities, and their cultures.