March 9, 2023

Congrats to Mackenzie Kerr, Saskia Livingstone, and Georgia Saunders-McConomy !

UCalgary Political Science 2021-22 Best Undergraduate Paper in International Indigenous Studies Prize!
Mountain View

The award is for the best student paper that advances understanding, awareness of and respect for Indigenous knowledges, realities, perspectives, experiences, and cultures from around the world. Open to all students in a 400 or 500-level course in International Indigenous Studies (outstanding work at other levels may be considered)


Mackenzie, Saskia, and Georgia’s paper was written for INDG 415 and nominated by Dr. Adela Kincaid


Dr. Kincaid, tell us a bit about the course and what made Mackenzie, Saskia, and Georgia’s paper stand out to you? 

This course applies an experiential, ways-of-learning-and-doing, approach to Indigenous ethics and local community engagement protocols. Mackenzie, Saskia, and Georgia developed a proposal that provided meaningful recommendations and guidance for the Office of Sustainability to help increase engagement with Indigenous students and Indigenous student groups. Their proposal is exceptional in that it informed the Office of Sustainability from a student perspective. Their work continues to make an impact and has resulted in a number of related projects continuing to build on their recommendations. Several meaningful examples include funded climate change projects where Indigenous and non-Indigenous students work with local Indigenous communities. Congratulations Saskia, Georgia, and Mackenzie and thank you for making important contributions that benefit Indigenous communities and students! 

Mackenzie, Saskia, and Georgia, what was the title of the paper? Can you give us a brief description of its main findings or arguments? 

Our paper was titled “Office of Sustainability: Recommendations for Increasing Engagement with University of Calgary Indigenous Students & Indigenous Student Groups.” The paper explored ways the University of Calgary’s Office of Sustainability could centre Indigenous knowledge in their practices and education efforts and adhere to the University’s ii’ taa’poh’to’p strategy. The paper highlighted important reconciliation context documents including the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and found that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been heavily criticized by Indigenous communities globally. Because the Office of Sustainability's work is centred on the SDGs, our work proposed key recommendations to address how the Office of Sustainability can begin to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into their work and help remove barriers for Indigenous students to engage with programming. 

Any tips on writing an excellent paper? 

Working as a group writing this paper, we found it super important to have open and regular communication. Starting the writing process is often the hardest part, and we found that having a meeting to create an outline helped us have structure and stay on track. Also don’t forget the importance of editing! Getting friends or family to help read over your work can be great to catch any mistakes, especially when you have been working on something for a long time!

Can you tell us what’s next for you? 

All three of us have graduated from UCalgary! Mackenzie is currently working at a recruitment firm in Vancouver, and Georgia and Saskia have both been accepted to attend Law School in the fall. We’ve all kept in touch after this project and hope to reunite in Vancouver this summer! 

Congratulations to Mackenzie, Saskia, and Georgia on your 2021–22 Award for Best Paper in International Indigenous Studies! 


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