Dr. Lisa Wexler, associate professor of community health education in the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, will be traveling and researching in Canada thanks to a recent $25,000 fellowship from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) and the Canada-U.S. Fulbright Foundation for Educational Exchange.
Dr. Wexler will be a Canadian Research Chair in Society and Culture at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada during spring 2016. Her research project will be done in partnership with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC), Dalhousie University researchers, and local artists to utilize her participatory research method — Intergenerational Dialogue Exchange and Action (IDEA) — in a project called “This is What I Wish You Knew”. IDEA, which she first led as a National Science Foundation-supported pilot project in Kotzebue, Alaska, uses a storytelling model to bring together community leaders and local youth, teaching the younger population about wellness and strategies for resilience, recovery, and charting a healthy pathway into adulthood. The overall project will engage approximately 50 Aboriginal youth, adults and elders in creating a large clay mural, producing a documentary film, collecting data and doing advocacy work related to urban Aboriginal identity within Halifax.
The Fulbright awards are a highly competitive program that funds teaching and research “for exchanges in all areas of endeavor, including the sciences, business, academia, public service, government, and the arts,” to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
“I am thrilled to be working in collaboration with such a great group of researchers, Indigenous leaders, healthcare administrators and artists on the project,” says Dr. Wexler. “I am looking forward to considering issues of Indigeneity, identity and cultural continuity from an urban perspective: something I have not yet done. What is even cooler is that we are able do this work through our IDEA process, a model that worked really well in a rural Alaska Native context when we created it and again when we piloted it last year. I am eager to learn whether it is as transferable as I think it is,” she adds.