In 2019, Dr. Adrianne Xavier joined McMaster as an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Studies. Her career is marked by unwavering commitment to Indigenous knowledge, community, and the preservation of traditions. With deep roots at McMaster University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology, Dr. Xavier’s academic voyage has taken her to remarkable heights.
Tell us about your academic and professional journey so far.
“My story started with a favour. Something I didn’t hesitate to ask what it was, but I said yes, and it was to be a market vendor; “the” market vendor in my community….and that’s how I eventually became the manager of the Our Sustenance program…a sustainability and food sovereignty program that operated in my community of Six Nations for seven years.
That time was an amazing experience where I got to work daily with my mother, and it was where most of my grad school education was as well. I got a Master’s in International Intercultural Communications and a Doctor of Social Sciences from Royal Roads University. The research I have done from that work has been in Indigenous focused food work.”
In her role as an educator, Dr. Xavier imparts her expertise in a variety of courses, offering students a window into the diverse world of Indigenous knowledge. Her teaching portfolio includes subjects such as Contemporary Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Food Security and Food Systems, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, and Methodologies. In each of these classes, Dr. Xavier’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is palpable, and her ability to inspire students to delve deeper into the realms of Indigenous culture and history is truly exceptional.
In 2020, she was honored with the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute’s “Indigenous In-Community Scholar Fellowship,” a prestigious recognition that underlines her dedication to serving her community at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. The project supported by this fellowship is a testament to Dr. Xavier’s commitment to understanding and enhancing food security and sovereignty within her community.
What excites you about your work at McMaster?
“One of the most exciting parts of being at Mac, aside from being close to home, is that my research is also close to home. Being supported at McMaster by faculty, students, staff and administration has meant that my work to better understand issues of Indigenous food sovereignty and how to make positive changes has been possible and has grown!”
Dr. Xavier’s research interests encompass a wide array of topics, including Indigenous food security, Indigenous land connections, rematriation, Indigenous food ways, and Indigenous ways of knowing. Her multifaceted approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of these elements, recognizing the profound impact of Indigenous knowledge on all aspects of life.
Recently, she was awarded the Petro Canada McMaster Young Innovator Award for 2021-22, adding another layer to her illustrious career. This accolade not only highlights her existing accomplishments but also provides her with the means to further her work in Indigenous research, with a focus on community-building and involving undergraduate students in this crucial mission.
Outside of academia, what do you like to do?
“My work in and out of community is about relationships, to food, land, community, culture, language and the world. I feel like my story and ability to tell stories is central to everything I do, in and out of academia.”
Dr. Adrianne Xavier’s journey is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of education, research, and community engagement. With her dedication to Indigenous knowledge and commitment to her community, she is inspiring future generations to embrace the wisdom of Indigenous knowledge and to walk the path of understanding and unity.