Queen's University

Jennifer Meness

Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Cultural Studies Program
LinkedIn profile for  Jennifer Meness


As a fourth year PhD candidate in the joint Communication and Culture program through York and Ryerson Universities, I am completing a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Indigenous Students in the Cultural Studies program at Queen's University. During my time at York, I was active with the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services (CASS) and also served as the graduate student representative on the Aboriginal Education Council. I thoroughly enjoy encouraging, inspiring, and mentoring Indigenous undergraduate and master's students both academically and traditionally. Over the past two years, I have volunteered with the Traditional Team at Anishinawbe Health Toronto as Oshkabewis (Helper) to Traditional Healers Pete Keshane, Colin Mousseau, and James Carpenter. I fulfill my Eagle Clan responsibilities by constantly pursuing the highest elevations of the mind and Spirit just as the Eagle pursues the highest elevations of the sky. 

In December 2017, I successfully defended my dissertation proposal, and received approval from the Office Of Research Ethics and the Indigenous research panel to begin my research. The working title of my dissertation is Gaa-dibenjikewaach: Manitou, Personhood, and Relationships in Powwow Malerial Culture. Using Anishinaabe conceptual frameworks and methodologies, my research gathers stories of experiences with Gaa-dibenjikewaach and seeks to further understand these types of relationships through the social lens of powwow participation. 

As a powwow dancer for over twenty-five years, my knowledge of protocol and history as well as community connections positions me well to successfully conduct this inquiry. I expect to complete the story-gathering phase of research for my dissertation in summer 2018. My research will advance an academic understanding of Anishinaabe experience, worldview, and ways of knowing by creating space to allow Anishinaabe voices to be heard as powwow dancers share their stories. 


Most Recent Project

Gaa-dibenjikewaach: Manitou, Personhood, and Relationships in Powwow Malerial Culture

Photo: Queen's researcher Jennifer Meness dressed in traditional pow wow regaliaAs Anishinaabe Kwe and a powwow dancer for over 25 years, my intention is to bring about awareness and an understanding of animate subjects through the social lens of powwow participation. The purpose of this Anishinaabe inquiry is to understand the relationship dancers have with Companions having Spirit such as Eagle feathers, Fans, Dance Sticks, and Regalia. My inquiry creates a space that allows Anishinaabe voices to be heard as powwow dancers share their stories and experiences. My inquiry asks: How do powwow participants understand Spirit in their Companions? How does a relationship with Companions and Regalia shape cultural embodiment and movement vocabulary? What movements are (re)created and (re)discovered through coaxing the embodied archive to divulge the repertoire through Manitou engagement? How have powwow dancers learned style and movement vocabulary from interacting with Companions? What is a dancer's experience with Manitou and Regalia? 

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