This is How We Do It – Decolonising Indigenous Men

Shane Keepness

Shane Keepness sits in his cozy second floor office, at the First Nations University of Canada, preparing for a trip to Hawaii. Once there, Shane will present his research on Indigenous Masculinity at the National Aboriginal Indigenous Studies Association Conference.

The 26-year-old is happy to share his ideas on advancing gender equality through land-based practices like hunting and gardening.

Shane is from Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation. Only 17 when he started university in 2007, he chose FNUniv for its smaller classes and Indigenous literature that he could relate to. He graduated in 2012 and is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria.

In Shane’s blog, he says, ‘I believe that getting community members active to support and strive for a sustainable livelihood is decolonization in practice. It’s re-establishing the relationships we have with our traditional lands to provide for our people. To improve community health, help reduce the risk of diabetes, with food that is produced from the local economy, and achieving a sustainable livelihood, particularly in my home community, from the issues of farming, gardening, fishing, and hunting.’

Shane struggles to contain his excitement when he shares an email from University of New York. They want to publish his research in a book.

According to Shane, his research is based on his practical, lived experiences, “an avenue to decolonize in Canada; that’s different from the discourses in New Zealand or Hawaii.”

These are the geographic areas Shane has learned about since researching questions of Indigenous masculinity.

“They have a different discourse regarding masculinity and land based practices.” And Shane believes, “there is an empowering process that naturally happens when we re-connect to our traditional territories.”

Shane says he was lucky to find a mentor in Gerald Taiaiake Alfred from the University of Victoria, a leading political authority in traditional governance, restoration of land-based cultural practices, and decolonization strategies.

Alfred is the Canada Research Chair, and Shane says he’s pretty stoked to be learning from one of the best scholars in the country. Shane says he likes to give back where he can and would really like to teach in the future.

by April Bourgeois