Lab and Community News

Indigenous Youth Outdoor Skills Day (Oct 21st, 2017)

On October 21st, TRU Adventure Programming students, Ella Roles and Monica Dufresne, lead a group of youth from the White Buffalo Aboriginal and Metis Health Society up to Isobel Lake, in the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, for a day filled with paddling, fishing, bonfires, drumming, storytelling and snow(person) building.
Pate Neumann, a Master’s of Environmental Science graduate student, and Courtney Mason, Associate Professor, went along to assist Ella and Monica with the days activities. They were also supported by three White Buffalo staff members and two volunteers from Secwepemc Fisheries. The day began with a “learn to paddle” session on the lake followed by a delicious lunch. In the afternoon there was a “learn to fish session” which was supported by Secwepemc Fisheries staff who spoke about traditional First Nations fishing methods and tools. This was followed by some singing, drumming, storytelling and brief Secwepemc history lessons. Everyone bundled up and headed back onto the water to try their hand at fly fishing and spin casting. By this point, the snow had begun to fall, creating some spectacularly calm and scenic paddling on the lake.
After some significant fishing effort, the group came back in to warm up by the fire and then packed up to return to town. It was quite a fun day, filled with lots of learning and some new experiences for all. It was nice to see TRU students, learning, playing and interacting along side local Indigenous youth. There is no better way to get to know people in your community then to bundle up and spend a day on the water with them!
We are looking forward to the next opportunity to get out with White Buffalo and local Indigenous youth to spend more time learning from each other in the beautiful natural environment that surrounds Kamloops.

Boule presents as President’s Reception

On September 19th, Kelsey Boule represented graduate students at the President’s Reception at TRU by giving a brief presentation. This event is held annually to recognize the students at the university who were awarded scholarships. President, Dr. Allan Shaver,  Provost and VP Academic,  Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen, as well as various Deans at TRU were in attendance to celebrate the hard work of the students. Kelsey spoke of her experiences at TRU including her time as an undergraduate student, her transition to graduate school, awards received, and research conducted through the university. It was an honor for her to be asked to represent graduate students as she was the recipient of both undergrad and graduate scholarships as well as the prestigious CIHR grant.  She hoped her story could inspire hard working students while acknowledging the faculty, staff, and peers who supported her throughout her education.

Kelsey Boule pictured with the Provost and VP Academic,  Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen, at the President’s Reception.


Neumann’s Research Shaping Regional Development….

Pate Neumann, Master’s student in Environmental Science, was recently invited to present his undergraduate research on conflict resolution for multi-use trail systems at the 2017 Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium held in Revelstoke, BC. The Symposium is held on a bi-annual basis and is an opportunity for stakeholders and experts to gather and share insights and knowledge on how to progress toward a more sustainable mountain bike tourism sector. Pate’s research focused on conflict mitigation techniques specific to the winter use of trail systems. It was a fantastic opportunity for Pate to develop relationships with key industry stakeholders and decision makers. Pate is using the experience gained from the symposium to shape and develop his graduate thesis work on sustainable management and use of trails in alpine environments.

Boule takes regional environmental issues to international conference…


Kelsey was invited to attend and present at the Critical Tourism Studies Conference in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Academics from around the world attended the conference to discuss and share their visions on promoting social change in tourism practice, education, and research. Kelsey contributed to these discussions by presenting on her research that focuses on the Ethical Issues of Sport Hunting in Western Canada. The presentation was part of a larger session that explored the environment and tourism – a fascinating discussion about the conflict between humans and the environment that occur during tourism visits and activities. During the conference, Kelsey was able to connect with many other academics in which she had discussions about her own research project and research being done at other international institutions. Overall CTS was a fantastic experience for her to present her own research project to a group of academics who share a passion for research in tourism.

Kelsey Boule and Courtney W. Mason. “Ethical Issues in Sport Hunting Tourism Economies: Investigating Stereotypes, Sustainability, and Inclusion in Western Canada’s Hunting Industry.” Paper Presented at 7th Annual Critical Tourism Studies Conference. Palma de Mallorca, Spain, June 27, 2017.

Students recognized by prestigious national awards

Dominique Hazel and Kelsey Boule,  two masters students in the Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities, have won some prestigious national awards.

TRU has awarded three $35,000 federal entrance scholarships to outstanding graduate students.

The Canadian Graduate Scholarships – Masters are valued at $17,500 annually for two years, and were awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

This marks the first time since the launch of the harmonized CGS-M program in 2013 that TRU has been eligible to offer the awards, and marks a significant federal investment in TRU’s graduate students and a validation of its graduate programming.

Dominique Hazel, Master of Science, SSHRC, Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship

Hometown: I moved to Kamloops after fourth grade, so I consider this to be my hometown
Undergraduate degree: Thompson Rivers University, Bachelor of Tourism Management Degree with a concentration in festivals and events, 2016
Why did you decide to go to grad school at TRU? I decided to go to graduate school because I really wanted to expand my learning and challenge myself in a new way. I knew it would be difficult but that the hard work would pay off. I decided to stay at TRU because of the strong network I have created here with students and faculty, and because the program allows me to pursue a research interest of my own, which is very rewarding.
What will you be researching? My graduate research focus is on the sustainability of music festivals, environmentally, economically and socio-culturally, more specifically, identifying barriers and incentives to change in British Columbia.
How does winning this award impact your life as a grad student? The award lets me explore my research interest with confidence, and takes away the added stress of financial pressures as a student. It means I can really focus my time and energy into my work at TRU.

Kelsey Boule, Master of Science, CIHR, Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship

Hometown: Cloverdale, BC
Undergraduate degree: Thompson Rivers University, Bachelor of Tourism Management, 2015
Why did you decide to go to grad school at TRU? During my undergrad degree at TRU I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to conduct my own research project that gave me a glimpse of what writing a thesis would be like, and it felt right to continue my research at the institute it started in. As well, it is an honour to work with Dr. Courtney Mason who has provided me with guidance and some incredible challenges as my supervisor. I was not expecting to return to school so quickly, but the opportunities available at TRU for personal growth in both knowledge and experience made the decision easy.
What is your graduate research focus? I have two projects I am currently working on. They are entitled “Barriers to Physical Activity and Health for Urban Indigenous Communities: A Young Women’s Perspective,” and, “The ethical issues of sport and conservation hunting: Investigating economic viability, sustainability, and environmental practices in British Columbia Canada.”
How does winning this award impact your life as a graduate student? This award is truly an incredible honour, and it allows me to focus on my research with the funds supporting my project and education goals, and its prestige will aid in advancing my academic and career ambitions.



New Book on Food Security

A Land Not Forgotten

Indigenous Food Security and Land-Based Practices in Northern Ontario

Michael A. Robidoux (Editor), Courtney W. Mason (Editor)


Food insecurity takes a disproportionate toll on the health of Canada’s Indigenous people. A Land Not Forgotten examines the disruptions in local food practices as a result of colonization and the cultural, educational, and health consequences of those disruptions. This multidisciplinary work demonstrates how some Indigenous communities in northern Ontario are addressing challenges to food security through the restoration of land-based cultural practices.

Improving Indigenous health, food security, and sovereignty means reinforcing practices that build resiliency in ecosystems and communities. As this book contends, this includes facilitating productive collaborations and establishing networks of Indigenous communities and allies to work together in promotion and protection of Indigenous food systems. This will influence diverse groups and encourage them to recognize the complexity of colonial histories and the destructive health impacts in Indigenous communities.

In addition to its multidisciplinary lens, the authors employ a community-based participatory approach that privileges Indigenous interests and perspectives. A Land Not Forgotten provides a comprehensive picture of the food security and health issues Indigenous peoples are encountering in Canada’s rural north.


“Without glossing over the terrible costs of the colonial legacy that Indigenous people are still paying, A Land Not Forgotten offers hope for a healthier, more food secure future for all of us.”

– Elaine Power, Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University


Michael A. Robidoux is a professor in the School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa. He is part of the Indigenous Health Research Group.

Courtney W. Mason is Canada Research Chair, Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Other contributors: Kristin Burnett, Bénédicte Fontaine-Bisson, Simon Frogg, Janice Cindy Gaudet, François Haman, Benoît Lamarche, Joseph LeBlanc, Courtney W. Mason, Shinjini Pilon, Michael A. Robidoux, Desirée Streit.

Grad Student Community Presentation (Jason Johnston)

Jason W. Johnston

MSc Environmental Science,

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities Lab member

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Presentation

Wednesday March 15th

Contact; Tom Willms (

Jason was invited to the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology as a guest speaker to present to a field technician class, in which the majority of students were Indigenous. He introduced himself,  his academic and fieldwork, and gave a bit of background on his own Indigenous heritage. He spoke to the class for an hour and a half,  giving them an overview of his current research on Indigenous representation in Jasper National Park and how he approached his research from an Indigenous perspective. He also was asked to speak about his previous work as an environmental technician and his academic path that has led him to where he is and how that will shape his future. The students were very receptive to the information being presented and asked some very good questions finding a number of commonalities including one student’s work on mapping traditional Indigenous territories. It was a great experience and several students stayed after to ask more questions and ask advice about how to go about doing this type of research, both professionally and academically.

Canada Research Chair awarded in tourism

Today’s announcement of a Tier II Canada Research Chair (CRC) at TRU further boosts the university’s growing research capacity; the sustained funding that comes with this appointment signals the federal government’s confidence in the university.

Dr. Courtney Mason has been appointed as Tier II Canada Research Chair in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities in the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism. Dr. Mason’s role at TRU is to act as an engine of research, working to connect the university with the communities it serves in purposeful and meaningful ways.

The CRC program invests approximately $265 million annually to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising researchers. Tier II CRCs are identified as exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

Read: Government of Canada announces strong support for cutting-edge research

Mason’s research examines the historical impacts of abrupt changes in land use for rural Indigenous Canadians, and assesses how those communities negotiate the related challenges. Results of his research will influence policy decisions concerning the development of Indigenous lands and resources, which will have national and global relevance, as well as significance at grassroots levels.

“Canada Research Chairholders at TRU not only impact the academic community, they also impact Kamloops and regional communities,” said Alan Shaver, TRU President and Vice-Chancellor. “It says a lot about TRU when it makes investments like this in community-based research that solves local challenges and helps people. Dr. Mason is well positioned to be a research leader who, by working collaboratively with his colleagues, will conduct world class research to achieve these goals.”

“The CRC program is central to the growth of TRU’s research capacity, and this announcement from the federal government recognizes our role as a research–informed university. We are very proud to welcome such an exceptional young scholar,” said Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies.

This appointment provides an exciting opportunity for Mason.

“A lot of the research I do with Indigenous communities in rural Canada—whether they be health initiatives, tourism development or food security research—requires working collaboratively with community members and band councils,” he said. “This appointment gives me the time to further develop these relationships to ensure projects meet the needs of communities and the responsibilities of ethical researchers.”

While the designation of a CRC is a significant professional achievement, the opportunity to relocate to TRU was attractive for personal reasons.

“Kamloops is a great community that suits my lifestyle in a lot of ways. I appreciate how well I’ve been received here, both in the community and on campus.”

Dr. Courtney Mason
Dr. Courtney Mason addresses the audience during the news conference announcing his appointment.


About Dr. Courtney Mason

Mason completed his PhD at the University of Alberta, where he investigated the displacement of Indigenous people in the creation of Banff National Park. His dissertation focused on colonial power relations and the experiences of Nakoda peoples in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Prior to his arrival in Kamloops, Mason worked at the University of Ottawa as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow with the Indigenous Health Research Group. He is the author of Spirits of the Rockies: Reasserting an Indigenous Presence in Banff National Park (University of Toronto Press 2014), and has another co-edited book forthcoming. He has also published widely in a number of disciplines on diverse subjects that include Canadian history, health and physical activity, food security, sport sociology and Indigenous studies.

Quick facts

Nearly 1,700 Canada Research Chair holders are working at over 70 postsecondary institutions across the country in a wide range of fields. More than 240 of these chairs are in British Columbia.
The Research Support Fund supports a portion of the costs associated with managing research at Canadian institutions such as administrative support, training costs for workplace health and safety, maintenance costs for libraries and laboratories, and administrative costs.
The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to innovate by investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and not-for-profit research institutions.
Created in 2000, the Canada Research Chairs Program has helped attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canada Research Chairs deepen our knowledge, enhance our quality of life and grow our economy.
More information

Courtney Mason