Illustration of a herd of caribou running

SASS faculty

Violet Ford, AVPIR and Associate Professor
Violet Ford

Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Research); Associate Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Sylvia Moore, Assistant Professor
Sylvia Moore, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies & Faculty of Education

Scott Neilsen, Assistant Professor
Scott Neilsen, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies & Department of Archaeology 


Arn Keeling

Arn Keeling, PhD

Professor and Department Head, Department of Geography; Cross-Appointment with School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Placeholder for Lisa Rankin's photo
Lisa Rankin, PhD

Professor, Department of Archaeology; Cross-Appointment with School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Adjunct appointments

Thomas Piggott

Thomas Piggott, MD, MSc

Medical Officer of Health & CEO, Peterborough Public Health; Adjunct Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Nat Pollock, Adjunct professor
Nathaniel Pollock, PhD, MSW

Research Associate & Adjunct Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Headshot of Alex Sawatzky, Special Projects Manager
Alex Sawatzky, PhD

Special Projects Manager & Adjunct Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

SASS faculty

Violet Ford

Violet Ford, AVPIR and Associate Professor

Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Research)
Associate Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Violet Ford is Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Research) [AVPIR]. As AVPIR, Ms. Ford works directly with the Vice-President (Research) and other senior leaders within the research portfolio and across Memorial to achieve the strategic objectives of the research portfolio to increase the impact and integrity of research at Memorial with a primary focus on research involving and relating to Indigenous communities.

Ms. Ford focuses on building relationships with Indigenous communities and leaders in Canada, especially within Newfoundland and Labrador on both community-identified and researcher-led research priorities.

She also provides leadership on Memorial’s Research Impacting Indigenous Groups policy and the Indigenous Research Agreement and works with the Committee on Ethical Research Impacting Indigenous Groups and Peer Advisory Group on Indigenous Research Relationships.

In addition to serving as AVPIR, Ms. Ford is also appointed associate professor with the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Campus.

Ms. Ford began at Memorial in Sept. 2021

Learn more: Indigenous Research at Memorial

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Sylvia Moore, PhD

Sylvia Moore, Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor
Departmental Appointments: School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies and the Faculty of Education

Sylvia Moore, PhD, is an educator, mental health professional, and assistant professor jointly appointed to the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies and the Faculty of Education, Memorial University. She is based at the Labrador Campus, but her Mi’kmaw family’s roots are in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Sylvia is the former faculty lead for Memorial’s teacher education programs in Labrador. The Inuit Bachelor of Education (IBED) was an Inuit-specific pre-service program that infused Inuit culture, knowledge and values into the teacher education curriculum. The Labrador MEd cohort engaged both Indigenous and non-Indigenous teachers in critically examining curriculum and pedagogy through decolonizing and Indigenizing lenses. Through the partnership between Memorial University and Nunavut Arctic College, Sylvia mentors instructors in the Nunavut Teacher Education Program, and promotes culturally relevant pedagogies and curricula.

Her community-based research is in the areas of Indigenous-led education and decolonizing/Indigenizing education at all levels. In her role as the Atlantic Canada Research Co-lead for the National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous Education, Sylvia has contributed to the establishment and growth of the organization. She is a member of the University of the Arctic's Thematic Network for Teacher Development, Diversity, and Social Justice. She presents and publishes on decolonizing pedagogies, Indigenous teacher education, land-based learning, language rejuvenation, Indigenous identity, and policies impacting inclusion in the Circumpolar North.

Sylvia sits on numerous university committees including those leading the Indigenization and decolonization of the academy.

Email: sylviam@mun.ca

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Scott Neilsen, Assistant ProfessorScott Neilsen, PhD
Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Certificate in Indigenous Studies
Departmental Appointments: School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies and the Department of Archaeology

Dr. Scott Neilsen’s research interests at this time are connected to his supervision of graduate students, and relationships he has with various heritage stakeholders in Labrador and Newfoundland. This includes research related to Innu, Inuit and Mi’Kmaq archaeological history, Indigenous and co-management of cultural and natural resources, the decolonization of archaeology and academia, repatriation, critical theory, contemporary archaeology, digital archaeology, and cultural resources management policies and practices.

These interests and Scott’s experiences living and learning in Labrador, where he practice applied archaeology in cooperation with local communities (e.g. Sheshatshiu Archaeology Project) and organizations (e.g Birch Island Archaeological Project), have led him to set-up the Laboratory for Applied Archaeological Research and Community Heritage, otherwise known as LARCH. This interdisciplinary lab is dedicated to supporting individuals, communities, not-for-profit organizations, and local governments with research related to archaeological history, community heritage, and tangible and intangible cultural resources. It is housed at the Labrador Campus Research Station in North West River, and is supported by Memorial’s new School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies, graduate and undergraduate students, community researchers, and in-formal and formal project-specific partnerships.

Email: scott.neilsen@mun.ca
Office: Labrador Campus Research Station, North West River

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Headshot of Arn Keeling, Professor of GeographyArn Keeling, PhD
Professor and Department Head, Department of Geography
Cross-Appointment with School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

My research and publications focus on the environmental-historical geography of Western and Northern Canada. In recent years, my research has explored the historical and contemporary encounters of northern Indigenous communities with large-scale resource developments. I was co-investigator on a multi-site, multi-year SSHRC project examining abandoned mines in Northern Canada and I am leading a new SSHRC project investigating the historical-geography of pollution and contaminants in Northern Canada. I am also interested in historical-geographical approaches to environmental science, political ecology and environmental justice. I have previously written on topics including domestic and industrial pollution, environmental politics, and the history of the conservation/environmental movement. I also serve as co-editor of the journal, Historical Geography (2015-20).

Find a list of Arn's research publications here
Email: akeeling@mun.ca
Twitter: @Arn_Keeling

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Lisa Rankin, ProfessorLisa Rankin, PhD
Professor, Department of Archaeology
Cross-Appointment with School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

My current research focuses on the culture and history of the Labrador Inuit from the late 16th to early 19th centuries, and their changing role in increasingly global social and economic networks during that time. In particular, I am interested in the gradual change from small, egalitarian single-family households in the late 16th century, to much larger communal houses occupied by the extended families of powerful shamans/traders by the beginning of the 18th century. These latter structures indicate a radical shift in what constituted a household, and how relations within it – and with outsiders – were managed. In part, this was based on the emergence of a new class of trader merchants, skilled in transporting and trading traditional resources like seal oil, baleen and furs in exchange for newly-available exotic goods like metal tools, beads, guns, boats and cloth. My students and I have pursued this research since 2001 at a number of Inuit archaeological sites in coastal Labrador, including Snack Cove and Huntingdon Island 5 in Sandwich Bay, Double Mer Point near the community of Rigolet in Hamilton Inlet, and several sites in and around the community of Hopedale.

At the same time, I have been a researcher and director of the community-based research partnership Tradition and Transition among the Labrador Inuit. This multi-disciplinary, multi-year partnership, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), is a collaboration between Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut Government, along with other academic and community partners. It seeks to expand and deepen our understanding of Nunatsiavut history, language and culture, to help the people of Nunatsiavut realize their heritage priorities and draw on their traditional values in negotiating a path into an increasingly complex social and economic future.

Prior to this, I directed the CURA project Understanding the Past to Build the Future, a five-year multidisciplinary study of the history of the NunatuKavut Inuit of southern Labrador, also funded by SSHRC. The research objectives included investigating the Inuit occupation of Southern Labrador, collecting and analyzing evidence of Inuit-European interactions, documenting cultural changes, and bringing the history of the southern Inuit into the present day. Research activities include archaeology, ethnography, archival study, and genealogy.

Find a list of Lisa's research publications here
Email: lrankin@mun.ca

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Adjunct appointments

Thomas PiggottThomas Piggott, MD, MSc
Medical Officer of Health & CEO, Peterborough Public Health
Adjunct Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Dr. Thomas Piggott is the current Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Peterborough Public Health. Prior to this position, Dr. Piggott was Medical Officer of Health and VP lead for Population Health and Rural and Remote Health in the northern region of Labrador-Grenfell Health. Dr. Piggott has experience in collaborative Indigenous public health in Canada and internationally. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, he led a response in solidarity with Indigenous governments in Labrador for outbreak prevention and a fair vaccination rollout prioritizing Indigenous communities.

Prior to working with Labrador-Grenfell Health, Dr. Piggott worked as a field doctor with Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dr. Piggott is a public health and preventive medicine specialist, and a practicing family physician who completed his Masters in Public Health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and residency training at McMaster University.

Dr. Piggott is actively involved in research and teaching in public health at McMaster University and Memorial University. Dr. Piggott’s research work has focused on guideline development and health equity. He was the co-editor of the book Under-Served: Health Determinant of Indigenous, Inner-City, and Migrant Populations in Canada (2018). Dr. Piggott is a member of the GRADE Working Group and has advised in public health guideline development methodology for multiple organizations including the World Health Organization and European Commission. In 2019, Dr. Piggott was appointed to the provincial Health Accord Newfoundland-Labrador Task Force Social Determinants of Health Committee to provide expertise on health system reform. Dr. Piggott has previously served on the board of directors of the Public Health Physicians of Canada and the World Federation of Public Health Associations and currently sits on the board of directors of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Twitter: @twpiggott

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Headshot of Nathaniel Pollock, Research AssociateNathaniel Pollock, PhD, MSW
Research Associate & Adjunct Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Nathaniel (Settler, he/him) is a research associate in the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Campus. Through this role, he works collaboratively with Indigenous governments and health and social care agencies in Labrador and elsewhere in the Circumpolar North on research, post-secondary education, and program and policy development projects. Nathaniel completed a Master’s of Social Work at Carleton University and a PhD in Community Health at Memorial University.

As an interdisciplinary public health scholar, Nathaniel uses mixed methods and community-based approaches to research. His interests include suicide prevention and mental health promotion, health services, and child and family health, particularly in rural, northern, and Indigenous communities. He previously taught courses in health research methods and northern and rural health, and has supervised graduate students in social work and public health.

Nathaniel is currently serving as the Vice President of the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health and the International Union of Circumpolar Health. He lived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay from 2011 to 2017. He currently lives in St. John’s with his partner and three children.

Find a list of Nathaniel’s research publications here.
Email: nathaniel.pollock@med.mun.ca
Twitter: @njpollock

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Headshot of Alex Sawatzky, Special Projects ManagerAlex Sawatzky, PhD
Special Projects Manager & Adjunct Professor, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies

Alex Sawatzky, PhD (Settler, she/her), is an interdisciplinary researcher and artist who collaborates with communities, researchers, and organizations to co-create and mobilize knowledge. She engages visual methods and tools that are driven by relational approaches to research, centering community voices and knowledge to ensure research, and research communication works with and for the people it serves to benefit.

For the past six years, Alex has been working in partnership with Inuit in Labrador on community-led climate change adaptation projects. During her PhD, she worked with the community of Rigolet to develop the foundation for a place-based, Inuit-led environment and health monitoring system that works with and for Inuit.

In her current capacity as Special Projects Manager at the Labrador Campus, Alex is working with key partners and leaders in Labrador and Memorial to manage the strategic development of the Pye Centre for Northern Boreal Food Systems. She is also leading and supporting projects and activities related to the Labrador Campus development and transition, including the strategic growth and development of educational programming, research initiatives, and infrastructural developments.

Alex also owns and operates her own freelance art and design practice, specializing in mobilizing science and research into visual forms, and enhancing science communication. She currently lives in Guelph, Ontario with her partner and dog.

Learn more about Alex’s art and design practice here
Email: asawatzky@mun.ca
Twitter: @_asawatzky

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Labrador Campus

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000