Alumna studies racism, colonialism in Canada through Fulbright grant

by University Communications,

As a student Fulbright winner, Em Dickey ’11 is spending nine months conducting anthropological research in Canada.

“I am most looking forward to experiencing the natural beauty and down-home hospitality that northern Canada is known for, doing my part to chip away at racism and colonialism, and learning to drive a snowmobile,” Dickey says.

Dickey — who majored in anthropology, minored in American ethnic studies, and graduated cum laude — will spend the first three months of her research in St. John’s, Newfoundland, taking a graduate course at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. She will study the ontological differences between indigenous and non-indigenous communities in regard to conservation and development.

Dickey will spend the latter six months in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, conducting research at the Labrador Institute.

She will work with the “Caring for Atikuat/Caribou” project, with the goal of illuminating the diverse world views of various indigenous and non-indigenous constituencies invested in caribou management. Ultimately, she will contribute to the making of a documentary that illustrates how Innu interact with and relate to caribou.

The following May, Dickey will present her research at the Canadian Anthropology Society’s annual meeting.

“My goal is to integrate into and contribute to the communities that I will be a guest in,” Dickey says. She hopes volunteering with the Mokami Status of Women Council and the Labrador Friendship Centre will help her accomplish this goal.

Building Relationships

After graduating from Willamette, Dickey worked as an immigrant and worker rights intern for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. for a summer.

She also held multiple positions within the Willamette community, most recently as the coordinator of the Chemawa Indian School–Willamette University Partnership Program. Through the program, Willamette students both tutor and mentor Chemawa students.

Dickey says this job ignited her interest in research, because she's seen first hand how the partnership program has transformed both mentors and mentees.

"The program has demonstrated to me that when people are given the tools to better understand one another and work together on commonly established goals, change that once seemed impossible becomes achievable," she says. "I am thrilled to be a part of a project that prioritizes relationship building and collaboration as means to resolve environmental challenges."

After she completes her Fulbright program, Dickey plans to earn her master of arts in social sciences from the University of Chicago. She is considering a future career in social work or teaching.

Each year the U.S. Student Fulbright program takes new and recent college graduates and grad students abroad to conduct research, carry out creative or service-related projects, or teach English.

This year’s applicant pool for the U.S. Student Fulbright program was more than 10,000 for about 1,800 spots. For the Canada program, Dickey was among 20 students selected from 127 total applicants.

For more information on Fulbright grants and similar opportunities, contact the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards.

• Article by Natalie Pate ’15, politics and French/Francophone studies major