UVic PhD student Monique Auger named Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation 2021 Scholar

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Auger talks Métis specific research for a prevention-based child welfare system. 

Monique Auger
Photo provided by Monique Auger.

Monique Auger could be heard shrieking for joy outside her home on the day she was told she had been selected as one of the 15 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s 2021 Scholars. The UVic PhD student was chosen from amongst 643 applicants for the prestigious leadership program for her academic excellence, leadership, and resilience.

“I felt a little bit like I was sticking out like a sore thumb,” Auger told the Martlet about her experience interviewing for the program amongst other high-achieving doctoral researchers from Canada and across the globe. “But maybe that’s the beauty of it because I did have a different way of looking at the issues that were presented to us.”

Auger is Métis of Haudenosaunee, Nisga’a, and French ancestry and works as a PhD student in the Social Dimensions of Health program at UVic. She also works as a sessional instructor in Indigenous Health at both UVic and Camosun College. Her doctoral research aims to use Métis specific methodology in order to explore the ways in which Métis traditions and culture can reorient Métis child welfare to be prevention-based. 

As a 2021 Scholar, Auger will be supported by the Foundation for the next three years through academic resources, mentorship opportunities, and substantial financial support. She will also receive personalized leadership training intended to help her become a positive and effective leader within her community. For Auger, this opportunity provides the freedom to conduct her research in a way that respects knowledge keepers and her Métis community. 

“It’s an opportune time to take a look at what jurisdiction can look like and how this could potentially be an opportunity to transform or reorient the system so that we can revitalize our traditional ways of knowing and being, and specifically our Métis child-rearing practices,” said Auger. “We can look at really strengthening our families and preventing children from ever having to go into care.”

Following the completion of her Master’s research at Simon Fraser University, Auger took a position in Victoria in the Reviews and Investigations division of the B.C. government’s Office of the Representative for Children and Youths. It was challenging work that focused on critical injuries and deaths of children in care, but the position gave Auger an in-depth look into BC’s child welfare system and specifically what obstacles Indigneous children in care were facing. This experience, alongside her previous research, inspired Auger’s current doctoral research to focus on prevention-based practices for Métis children in care.

“When we talk all the time about an Indigenous child welfare crisis, I’m just really looking forward to looking at how we can shift that so we don’t have to have those conversations anymore. That’s the goal for the research,” said Auger. 

Auger’s passion for community-based research was originally motivated by the Métis specific research gap she found in existing academic literature. Both as an undergraduate and master’s student, she felt her people’s issues were not being represented in the available research and felt compelled to change that. 

“That [discovery] really fueled my fire. I was like, I want to learn more about these issues, and I want to talk to our communities, and I want to find out what’s going on beneath the surface,” said Auger with determined passion.

The 2021 Scholar added that she is grateful that her program will allow her to take an interdisciplinary approach to her work and also that her PhD supervisory committee will be all Indigenous. 

“UVic has a wonderful Indigenous faculty and that’s the true testament I think of an institution that can not only recruit but also retain Indigenous brilliance and talent,” said Auger. “For me, that was a really good indicator of a good place to study.”