Tracy L Friedel

Scarfe 2330


Associate Professor

Place-based Learning
Outdoor Education
Indigenous Land-based Education


I am the daughter of Margerie Friedel (nee Cunningham) and Clifford Friedel of Duffield, AB. Descended from Nehiyaw speaking Métis people, I remain closely connected to the traditional, ancestral territory of my Ancestors, Manitow Sâkâhikan [Lac St. Anne in central Alberta]. As a matter of courtship, my grandfather Montrose Cunningham skated across this lake in winter to visit my grandmother, Lily LaRocque. Located in the North Saskatchewan watershed, Manitow Sâkâhikan is marked by a long history of fishing, buffalo hunts, and summer gatherings. This remains an important place for Nehiyaw-Métis and other Indigenous peoples today.

I offer many thanks for the opportunity to work and reside part-time as a guest in Musqueam territory. UBC’s Vancouver campus is located on the traditional, ancestral lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam – People of the River Grass).

My educational journey includes completion of an undergraduate Degree w/ Distinction in Commerce at the University of Alberta (Faculty of Business, 1996). While studying for that, I also worked as an administrator of college-level business programs for First Nation, Métis and Inuit women. The experience of working in Indigenous higher education prompted completion of a new Masters program in First Nations Education at the University of Alberta (Department of Educational Policy Studies, 1999). My thesis, focused on Aboriginal parental involvement in an urban public school, deals with how issues of power and conflict, related to a legacy of internal colonialism, creates barriers to the meaningful involvement of parents.

The outcomes of that study led me to wonder how, given legacies of disenfranchisement, Indigenous students could reclaim cultural practices that had provided their Ancestors with access to an array of non-material benefits, including effective knowledge translation techniques. In exploring this topic further in my PhD (U of A), I uncovered important educational implications stemming from urban Indigenous youths’ place-based experience. My PhD study received funding from SSHRC, CIHR, Canadian Heritage, and the National Aboriginal Health Organization, plus additional funding for knowledge translation activities, e.g. to produce a mural through Voices Less Heard, an Edmonton Cultural Capital initiative. This research received an internal award (one of two each year in the Faculty of Education), and was one out of two dissertations nominated by the U of A for an annual national award.

Upon completion of my PhD studies, I took up my current position as an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Education in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC. Outside of the university context, in October 2010 I was appointed to the Board of Governors of Rupertsland Institute, a Métis Nation of Alberta affiliate (and sat as Chair of the Board of Governors from Feb 2012 to Jan 2013). In 2011, I was appointed as a Council Member of the Indigenous Leadership and Management Program at the Banff Centre. And in 2013, I agreed to sit as a Board of Director for the Gunn Metis Local 55.

Among other things, my research interests include First Nation and Métis experience in the realm of work and learning, decolonizing research at the intersection of health and education, Nehiyaw-Métis oral histories, and Indigenous-focused outdoor/land/place-based education. As part of this latter interest, I have engaged with community-based partners in the Lower Mainland of BC, and Haida Gwaii, to create meaningful academic service learning experiences for UBC graduate students.

In extending upon earlier research, I am in the process of leading (as Principal Investigator) a community-based project focused on Indigenous youth leadership in the area of unintentional injury prevention. This three-year study (2013-16), supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Open Operating Grant, is situated in Alberta (the Edmonton region).

I am interested in pursuing inquiry via means of Indigenous methodologies, community-based participatory research, qualitative case studies, visual research methods, oral hi(stories), and critical race theory in qualitative research.

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Invited Presentations


Friedel, T.L. (2012, Oct). Restoring esprit de corps in the 21st century: Advancing Métis education and training in the Province of Alberta. Indigenous Education Summit, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON.

Friedel, T.L. (2011, Feb). Learning “to be Aboriginal without being in the woods”. “Fostering Biimaadiziwin” – A National Research Conference on Urban Aboriginal Peoples, Toronto, ON.

Friedel, T.L. (2010, March). Research on racial micro-aggressions, Indigenous identity, and urban First Nations youth. Publicly regulated education systems: A role in reconciliation colloquium – “Improving the education of Aboriginal people living off-reserve: A discussion of delivery modes”, Saskatoon, SK.

Taylor, A., Friedel, T.L. & Edge, L. (2009, March). Pathways for First Nations and Métis youth to the labour market. Aboriginal Policy Research Conference, Ottawa, ON.

Friedel, T.L. (2008, July). Understanding Aboriginal social exclusion through a race-based analysis – the case of urban Native youth. Panel Theme: Health, Safety and Wellness, National Aboriginal Women’s Summit, Yellowknife, NT.

Selected Publications


Friedel, T.L., Archibald, J.A., Big Head, R., Martin, G. & Munoz, M. (2012). Editorial. Indigenous pedagogies: Resurgence and restoration. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 35 (1), 1-6.

Friedel, T.L. & Taylor, A. (2011). Digging beneath the surface of Aboriginal labour market development: Analyzing policy discourse in the context of Northern Alberta’s oil sands. aboriginal policy studies, 1 (3), 29-52.

Taylor, A. & Friedel, T.L. (2011). Enduring neoliberalism in Alberta’s oil sands: The troubling effects of private-public partnerships for First Nation and Métis communities. Citizenship Studies, 15 (67), 815-835.

Friedel, T.L. (2011). Looking for learning in all the wrong places: Urban Native youths’ cultured response to Western-oriented place-based learning. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Special Issue – Youth Resistance Revisited, 24 (5), 531-546.

Friedel, T.L. (2010). The more things change, the more they stay the same: The challenge of identity for Native students in Canada. Cultural and Pedagogical Inquiry, 1 (2), 22-45.

Taylor, A., Friedel, T.L. & Edge, L. (2010). Indigenous youth in Northern Alberta: Toward a more expansive view of transitions. Aboriginal Policy Research Initiative: Policy Research Paper Series. Ottawa: The Institute on Governance, in partnership with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.

Friedel, T.L. (2010). Finding a place for race at the policy table: Broadening the Aboriginal education policy discourse in Canada. Aboriginal Policy Research Initiative: Policy Research Paper Series. Ottawa: The Institute On Governance, in partnership with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.

Friedel, T.L. (2008). [Not so] crude images and text: Staging Native in ‘big oil’ advertising. Visual Studies, 23 (3), 238-254.


Taylor, A., Friedel, T.L., & Edge, L. (2009). Pathways for First Nation and Métis youth in the oil sands. Pathways for Youth to the Labour Market Series. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks. Available at:


Friedel, T.L. (2013). Outdoor education as a sit eof epistemological persistence: Unsettling an understanding of urban Indigenous youth resistance. In E. Tuck & K.W. Yang (Eds.), Youth resistance and theories of change. New York: Routledge – Critical Youth Studies Series.

Friedel, T.L. (2010). Finding a place for race at the policy table: Broadening the Aboriginal education policy discourse in Canada. In J.P. White & J. Bruhn (Eds.), Aboriginal Policy Research Volume III: Exploring the urban landscape, (pp. 171-198). Toronto: Toronto Educational Publishing Inc. (reprint of a journal article above).


Friedel, T.L. (Spring, 2011). Review of “I thought Pocahontas was a movie”: Perspectives on race/culture binaries in education and service professions. (Eds., C. Schick and J. McNinch). Great Plains Research: A Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 21(1), 119.

Courses Taught

Theories and Dimensions of Place-based Learning: Ecohumanist, Critical and Indigenous Lenses

Indigenous Methodologies and Epistemologies

Curriculum Development & Evaluation: Theoretical and Practical Issues (Indigenous Perspectives)

Critical Issues in First Nations Education