The University of Victoria is situated on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ  Nations. Click here to learn more.

Graduate Student Supervision

If you are interested in applying to work with Heather in the HEC Lab, we encourage you to email Heather with a statement of interest, an up to date copy of your CV, a copy of your unofficial transcripts, as well as an exceptional piece of writing you would like to share.

Dr. Heather Castleden

Dr. Heather Castleden is a (white) settler guest and scholar on traditional lək̓ʷəŋən Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ territories at the University of Victoria where she holds an Impact Chair in Transformative Governance for Planetary Health.


The Spirit of the Lakes

The Spirit of the Lakes project team members Lydia Johnson, Sam Mishos, and Heather Castleden gave a virtual presentation at the Society for Freshwater Sciences conference in May 2021. The presentation gives some background on the research, as well as the project objectives, which focus on developing and piloting a partnership protocol for research taking place in Grand Council Treaty #3 Anishinaabe territories.

Logo credit: Grand Council Treaty 3

Research for the HEC of it!

The HEC Lab at the University of Victoria is situated on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations, whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. The lab focuses on producing justice-oriented research that contributes to pathways of social, environmental, and health equity. With a specific focus on Indigenous health and well-being, Two-Eye Seeing, community-based participatory research, and digital methods, the HEC Lab is a dynamic space where highly qualified personnel are trained and mentored to produce first class research.

The HEC Lab is also co-located at Queen’s University on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Peoples. Only the HEC Lab at UVic will be accepting new students in 2021-2022

The Lab

The HEC Lab focuses on reconciliatory, respectful, reciprocal, and responsible community-based participatory research. The Lab is committed to equity-oriented projects that apply social, environmental, and health lenses, and our work comes together through intersections of cultures, places, power/resistance, and relational ethics using innovative, decolonizing research methodologies. The HEC lab is equipped with a wide range of field equipment (audio/video recording, photovoice, and digital story technologies), qualitative data analysis and transcription software, as well as common and individual internet-connected computer work stations. The HEC Lab strives to cultivate the next generation of critically-engaged scholars by providing significant and meaningful research training opportunities for highly qualified personnel.

Tasii?akqin ?uyaqhmisukqin (Our Journey, Our Story)

Tasii?akqin ?uyaqhmisukqin is the continuation of a long-standing research collaboration with Huu-ay-aht First Nations, one of the five First Nation signatories of the Maa-nulth Treaty. Since 2005, various sources of SSHRC funding have supported the undertaking of a community-driven comprehensive study about the multi-faceted experiences of becoming a Modern Treaty Nation, contributing to the negotiation process and the early years of the implementation journey from community perspectives.

The goal of this new research project is to identify, document, and critically understand and analyze how Huu-ay-aht citizens are experiencing the first decade of implementation as the Nation prepares for the 2026 ‘Periodic Review’ of the Maa-nulth Treaty. Accordingly, our research would run alongside the Huu-ay-aht implementation pathway. In doing so, our study is intended to first contribute to Huu- ay-aht First Nations’ ability to adequately and effectively implement its Final Agreement, second to add to academic critiques of modern treaties, and third to contribute to policy and process alternatives.

Our Ancestors Are in Our Lands, Waters, and Air

To date we have been researching the impacts of the pulp and paper mill in the estuary adjacent to the community of Pictou Landing First Nation, known as A’se’k, which provided us with the foods, medicines, transportation, shelter, and tools we have needed to survive and thrive since time immemorial. Now we want to (1) share our novel health-related knowledge vis-à-vis a documentary film about our integrative research, and (2) using the film as a catalyst, investigate how university-based and community-based researchers across disciplines, professions, and sectors can begin to conceptualize a Two-Eyed Seeing approach in their own research in the spirit of healing and reconciliation in Indigenous health.


The Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future (A SHARED Future) program of research is about reconciliation between knowledge systems is about reconciliation between knowledge systems; it must be foundational to our work together

From this premise, renewable energy is our chosen platform for exploring reconciliation and moving towards healing our relationships with each other and the world around us. Our goal is to bring forward stories of reconciliation and healing in intersectoral partnerships under the umbrella of renewable energy conservation, efficiency, and development. In doing so, we wish to bring to light new and restored understandings of integrative health by sharing our stories, resources, and tools with Indigenous and Settler governments, industries, ENGOs, universities, and beyond.

The A SHARED Future Research Program supports several thematically-linked projects across Canada that will study various types of intersectoral partnerships, with an overall focus on Indigenous peoples’ leadership in renewable energy conservation, efficiency, and development. You can learn more about the A SHARED Future research program and the various projects here.

Relational Accountability in
Post-TRC Times

After a decade of research efforts towards decolonizing the Settler-dominated academy (Castleden et al., 2010; Castleden et al., 2012; Steigman & Castleden 2015; Castleden et al., 2015; Sylvestre, Castleden, Martin, & McNally, 2018; Yeung, Bombay, Walker, Denis, Martin, Sylvestre, & Castleden, 2018; and Sylvestre, Castleden, Denis, Martin, & Bombay, 2019), I found renewed inspiration from reading Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenz’s 2018 publication “Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: Navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy”.

Their call to action has prompted an expanded trajectory that I will be bringing forward in the next five years around how institutional environments are responding to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in curriculum, pedagogy, research, and administration. I have begun two studies, one on “Public Health Sciences: Responses to TRC Call to Action #24” and the other on “Departmental Geographies of Reconciliation”.

Both projects are seeking to understand Canada-wide disciplinary/departmental perspectives on the relevance and importance of the TRC Final Report. These projects align with the TRC’s Call to Action #53, which asks for research into the reconciliation progress across all sectors of Canadian society, including the implementation of all 94 Calls to Action. By interviewing Department Heads from across the country, this research will add important insights to where things are going well and where we are failing. If this is of interest to you, please contact me!

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Getting Personal

WELCOME TO ‘GETTING PERSONAL’! Sam, Saskia, Kiera, and Erica are four graduate students currently doing research in the areas of geography, environmental studies, and health promotion at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario.

As part of Dr Heather Castleden’s ‘Critical Modes of Inquiry’ graduate course at Queen’s, they created ‘Getting Personal’ as a socially distant opportunity to converse with one another about positionality and reflexivity in the context of their own research projects.

With a different podcaster at the focal point for each episode, they share how their personal identities, backgrounds, and experiences have shaped who they are and how these personal subjectivities make their way into their research.

You can read more about “Getting Personal” here: https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2021-03-01/news/new-podcast-highlights-graduate-student-research/ and you can listen to the podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/user-410213733