2023 Research Impact Canada Engaged Scholarship Award Winner (Master’s category): Jasmine Kowalewski

Jasmine Kowalewski was awarded the 2023 Research Impact Canada Engaged Scholarship Award for her project, Exploring the Effects of Activism: Promoting The Voices of Indigenous Youth.

About project

Every year, on May 5th, the streets of Edmonton echo with the chants of “NO MORE MISSING, MURDERED, INDIGENOUS WOMEN! NO MORE STOLEN SISTERS!” The annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) March brings attention to systemic issues impacting Indigenous women and girls, prevents future gendered violence, and increases community building and healing.

But what do Canadian Indigenous youth think about this crisis? And how can attending the MMIWG March affect them? These are the questions that researcher Jasmine Kowalewski seeks to answer with her qualitative research.

Her research aims to promote Indigenous youth and their voices, who have often been excluded from discussions and narratives about the MMIWG crisis. Too often, the public hears negative statistics about Indigenous Youth without considering the history of colonization, intergenerational trauma, and ongoing systemic racism that have contributed to these issues.

Kowalewski’s research adopts a strength-based framework and an Indigenous methodology to emphasize Indigenous resiliency. Yes, Indigenous Youth can adapt and thrive in the face of adversity.

Using a community-based participatory approach, Kowalewski works closely with a local high school. This high school annually attends the MMIWG March. After the march, a blending of a Western focus group and an Indigenous sharing circle will be held to explore to

  1. Empower Indigenous youth to voice their opinions and take action on the issues that impact them, and
  2. Examine the impact of attending the MMIWG March on Indigenous Youth.

By coming together with their communities to demand justice and raise awareness, Indigenous youth may experience empowerment, further a sense of belonging, and create meaning in the face of trauma and adversity.

Kowalewski’s research represents a step toward challenging the dominant deficit-based narrative. By providing Indigenous Youth with the opportunity to transform their narratives toward reflecting their strengths, they can reclaim their sense of identity. This has implications for how Indigenous Youth see themselves. In addition, this research can spread awareness on Indigenous-led, community-based interventions for healing.

Overall, Kowalewski’s research has the potential to create meaningful change and promote a more inclusive and just society. Don’t you think it’s about time?

About award recipient

Jasmine Kowalewski is a dedicated Master’s student at the University of Alberta, pursuing a degree in School and Clinical Child Psychology. With a strong passion for helping marginalized youth, Jasmine has focused her research on a variety of topics, ranging from neuropsychology to systemic racism. Through her work, Jasmine has become an advocate for social justice and equality, seeking to improve the lives of those who have been historically underserved and underrepresented.

As Jasmine progresses through her Master’s program, she has become increasingly involved in Indigenous research and research related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). She is committed to understanding the complex issues facing these communities and developing evidence-based interventions to support positive outcomes for children and families.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Jasmine is an avid volunteer and social justice advocate. She has worked with a variety of local organizations, including the Boy and Girls Club, to promote opportunities for underprivileged youth. In recognition of her contributions, Jasmine has received multiple awards, including The Canada Graduate Scholarships from SSHRC.

Overall, Jasmine is a compassionate and driven individual who is committed to making a positive impact in the lives of others. Her passion for social justice and equity, combined with her strong academic background and community involvement, make her a valuable asset to the community.