Student Researchers


Dennis Anderson

Dennis Anderson is carrying out his master’s research in the Department of Native Studies at the U of M. He comes from Gillam and is a member of the Fox Lake Cree Nation.  He is studying the impact of the many hydro projects that have been constructed on his traditional territory.

Learn more about his research work here – Thesis_Summary_-_Dennis_Anderson


Gerald Beta

Gerald Beta is a Master of Environment student at the University of Manitoba. In 2019, He was awarded an Honours (BSc) Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at Midlands State University, a certificate in Project and program monitoring and evaluation at the University of Zimbabwe and an ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems certificate in Zimbabwe.

As a student researcher, under the leadership of Professor Stephane McLachlan, Gerald’s Master’s research project is focused on comparing the health and environmental impacts of hydroelectric developments in Southern and Northern Manitoba First Nations. As a visionary student, He intends to apply diverse GIS and Remote sensing technologies to better understand how health and the physical environment has changed due to hydro developments. The idea is to determine if Indigenous communities are fighting the same health and environmental impacts across Manitoba and to raise awareness across other Provinces in Canada experiencing the same impacts of hydro-projects.

completed student research

Katarina Djordjevic

Katarina graduated with a Honours of Environmental Studies with a focus in Sustainable Development at the University of Manitoba. She worked with Professor Jonathan Peyton on research that encompasses the natural resource economies of the Canadian prairies. The research was framed by hydroelectric developments in Manitoba and their ramifications, including abandoned sites and indigenous relations.

With the site of Sundance, Manitoba, her research assessed the social and environmental implications of such phenomena, contributing to the argument that water is a nexus for environmental dislocation, socio-economic formations, and engineering expertise. More broadly, it also aimed to understand the legacy for future developments that Manitoba Hydro’s energy mega-projects’ (such as the Limestone Generating Station) impart, informing the parameters and rationales of specific resource use.

Amy Cherpako

Amy Cherpako graduated from the Master of Human Rights program at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. She previously graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a BA in International Development Studies. Her primary research interest is the intersection between Indigenous rights and environmental justice, including Indigenous knowledge revitalization (TEK), participatory community development, and Two-Eyed Seeing.

Her project looked at the concept of legal personhood, or assigning legal rights to natural entities. Her research highlights how Indigenous peoples are often disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and exploitation, yet tend to be excluded from domestic and international environmental decision-making. She provides a comparison of anthropocentric, ecocentric, and Indigenous worldviews in the context of environmental sustainability, as well as an overview of the legal personhood movement around the world. She highlights that the legal personhood strategy has the potential to provide optimal environmental preservation, while uplifting Indigenous autonomy and promoting decolonization of natural resource protection.

During her practicum this summer at Wa Ni Ska Tan, she will connect her preliminary research to the Manitoba context, by learning from Indigenous communities who have successfully applied legal personhood. She plans to consult and learn from northern Indigenous communities to assess interest in this strategy, and initiate dialogue about gaining legal personhood for a river or lake in northern Manitoba.

Cherpako. (2023). Nature’s rights are human rights: revitalizing Indigenous land stewardship through legal personhood.

Victoria Grima

Victoria has completed her Master’s Degree. Her Master research project at the University of Manitoba applied GIS platforms/technologies to better understand and comprehend geographically the implications and effects of hydropower development impacts in Northern Manitoba for both affected natural environment and Indigenous communities. In this respect, this research study integrated spatial information technologies with Indigenous Traditional Environmental/Ecological Knowledge to:

  • identify and document changes through time of the hydro-associative environmental impacts on the profile of the waterways and their shorelines;
  • spatially document how hydro-associative environmental impacts have effected indigenous traditional cultural land-use and harvesting practices;
  • understand how the traditional land-use and harvesting practices have adapted to such impacts through time; and
  • analyze any noticeable geographical correlations.

The results achieved her research can be of great use at both local and regional decision-making levels: when it comes to existing and planned hydropower developments, in the establishment of environmentally sound resource management and in sustainable development practices in Manitoba.

Grima. (2022). Nipi (Water) and its pawistik (falls) in Northern Manitoba:  a dive into Eurocentric policies and the effects of hydro generation on the seasonal movements of a northern Indigenous community, Nisicawayāsihk Cree Nation.

Andrea Sutherland

Andrea Sutherland is an undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba pursuing a degree in Environmental Science. Under the guidance of Dr. Stéphane McLachlan, Andrea completed her research practicum exposing corporate mistruths and to pave the way for a sustainable energy future.  

She spent her summer (2021) researching greenwashing in Canadian hydropower firms. By reviewing media campaigns and press releases from several hydroelectric companies and cross-referencing them with related hearing transcripts and personal testimony, she identified instances where the companies’ words and actions are not in agreement. She is summarized her findings on Wa Ni Ska Tan’s blog and hopes to raise awareness about the extent and severity of greenwashing in Canadian media.

Rebecca Kingdon

Rebecca Kingdon completed her Master of Environment in collaboration with Wa Ni Ska Tan, establishing an international alliance of hydro-impacted communities and allies. Her role in this project was to help facilitate and document the process as it unfolds over the next couple years.

At the time of her research she noted, the regional hydro-impacted alliances around the world and worked to build resistance against hydro and to assist communities already living with the impacts. This project was successful in bringing all these efforts together into one network as a means of sharing knowledge and resources. Through Sam Watch International, this project continues to create large-scale resistance and resilience building. Rebecca feels incredibly honoured and excited as she continues to be involved in this project beyond her Master’s research and looks forward to working in collaboration with community leaders from around the world.

Kingdon. (2022). Dam Watch International: the role of community-grounded transnational collaboration in countering “sustainable” dam development around the world.

Tanjina Tahsin

Tanjina Tahsin came from Bangladesh to University of Manitoba’s Master of Environment program. She brought with her a B.S. (Honours) degree in Soil, Water and Environment from University of Dhaka.

During her Master’s degree from the same department she studied Environment as her major arena of focus and completed a thesis on contamination (heavy metals) of food (specifically vegetables), sources of contaminants, and networks in the food chain, as well as their effect on human health. From 2013 to 2015 she worked for an International NGO, International Fertilizer Development Center, focusing on innovative agricultural technology as well as rural development, focusing especially on women. During her work she has explored many monitoring tools (survey, interview and focus group discussions) based on project needs. Tanjina has also gained experience working with adolescents in an Adolescent Development Programme for BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh.

Under the supervision of Dr. Stephane McLachlan she will conducted her research which will focusing on the implications of hydro development for water quality and associated community concerns , especially with youth. She set up community based monitoring program through youth summer camps at various communities through the kis kin ha ma ki win program. Her research work continues to include both Traditional Knowledge (TK) and western environmental sciences in addressing community concerns.

Tahsin. (2021). Land-based learning: Building bridges between Indigenous knowledge and Western science.

Caolan Barr

Caolan’s thesis explored the impacts of a series of dams in Treaty 3 territories of Northwestern Ontario. The project examined how dispossession was produced for Anishinaabeg communities of Treaty 3 through interlocking processes of discourse, cultural production and the institutions of Canadian law. In Treaty 3, the foundation and justifications for hydro development were laid through a series of expeditions, travel narratives and legal decisions that facilitated Anishinaabeg dispossession. Charting the history of hydro development in Treaty 3, led Barr to argue that it relied on a number of interlocking discourses, stories and forms of legal and material violence and erasure. Further, this dispossession is structural to settler colonialism and the defining feature which ties a set of seemingly disparate histories and processes together in Treaty 3. Barr’s hope is that this work contributes to more robust understandings of Treaty 3’s history and the history of colonialism in Canada as a whole.

Barr. (2018). Developing Dispossession: Infrastructure, Cultural Production and Legal Discourse in Treaty 3.

Jack Lovell

In Memory of Jack Lovell (June 11, 1958 ~ February 22, 2019)

Jack Lovell’s previous studies in sociology and Masters Degree in Rural Development at Brandon University explored inherent factors influencing the lives and economy of people and places in rural Manitoba. Jack’s Ph.D. research at the University of Manitoba took a multi-disciplinary approach to building localised economy focused upon an ‘alternative’ but pragmatic approach to Indigenous development. The research plan intended to be fully inclusive of traditional Cree cultural and spiritual values while implementing ‘cutting edge’ developmental theory. In conjunction with his educational process, Jack worked the past 11 years serving a remote rural region as an economic development officer. Having incorporated his diverse knowledge-base with the community leadership and Elders at Pickerel Narrows First Nation, his doctoral research program intended to reveal an effective, culturally appropriate pathway to building socio-economic capacity to this, and other northern Manitoba communities.

Jack is greatly missed and will be remembered fondly.

Joseph Dipple

Joseph Dipple completed his Ph.D in the department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. He completed his M.A. at the U of M in Native Studies as well.

His research focused on the implications of the production of hydroelectricity on the gathering and hunting way of life in northern Manitoba. In particular, he worked with harvesters from Tataskweyak Cree Nations (Split Lake), Fox Lake Cree Nations, and South Indian Lake. Joseph has participated as a student since the beginning of the Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance. During the first year of the SSHRC funded project he participated as a co-editor of the Alliance newsletter. Additionally, he has participated in every annual gathering of the Alliance and worked with Dr. Stephane McLachlan on a funding proposal. Currently, Wa Ni Ska Tan is provided him with funding for his research on the land in northern Manitoba. 

Dipple. (2015). Implications of hydroelectric partnerships in northern Manitoba: do partnership agreements provide social licence?

Erin Yaremko

Erin Yaremko was enrolled a research year of the Joint Master’s program in History between the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Her previous research training was obtained through the University of Winnipeg’s Oral History Centre where she was trained in Oral History and the basics of Archiving. Erin views academia as a tool that allows her to better understand knowledge she has received from people she has volunteered and worked alongside throughout her life. Her research focus was on documenting the social impacts of hydroelectric development on two Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba.

Alongside her thesis research Erin worked in partnership with the communities of South Indian Lake (Pipon-na-piwin Cree Nation) and the Chemawawin Nation in the creation of community archives. The northern community archives project allows for the repatriation and accessibility of information for each community. Erin worked with both communities to grow each community archive to become a space for the further repatriation of information as well as artifacts. Erin is thankful for the Wa Ni Ska Tan: Alliance of Hydro Impacted Communities for without their generous funding and continual support her work in the north would not be as easily accessible. The Wa Ni Ska Tan: Alliance of Hydro Impacted Communities has especially assisted Erin in creating the social connections needed to create relationships with members of various northern communities in order to carry out her work.

Yaremko. (2018). Failed partnership to future partnership: an examination of social impacts moving from institutional failure to partner with Indigenous communities to a new model of partnership.