Adjunct Professor Greg Poelzer Visits UiT
By Vanessa Brune and Chelsea Mackay – Students in the Masters of Indigenous Studies program
On October 22nd, 2014, Focal Point North held a lunch seminar at the Sami Centre at the University of Tromsø, entitled “Canadian and Swedish Indigenous Politics”. Presenting the challenges and opportunities facing the Sami in Sweden was adjunct professor Patrik Lantto, while Canadian Indigenous issues were represented by his colleague Greg Poelzer. Poelzer joined the Focal Point North team last spring, and this was his second visit to Norway since starting his position as adjunct professor. In this role, Poelzer will visit Norway two to three times per year and will be responsible for organizing seminars which will focus on northern issues such as climate change, globablization, Indigenous governance, etc. When he is not in Norway, Poelzer holds positions as an associate professor in Political Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, the executive chair of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development and leads the UArctic Thematic Network on Northern Governance.
Experienced in Northern Studies
Greg Poelzer has been involved with northern research for the past 25 years. While he originally pictured himself as a Sovietologist, a brief stint teaching political science in an Aboriginal Social Work program in Grouard, Alberta led him to develop an interest in Aboriginal governance. He then used his background to create comparisons between Canada and Russia’s northern policies. After focusing on Canada’s First Nations at the University of Northern British Columbia, he became inaugural dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of the Arctic. In 2003, he would join the teaching staff at the University of Saskatchewan, where he would eventually connect for the first time with the University of Tromsø and the Focal Point North program.
Research and Networking
Focal Point North was established last year with the aim of creating new knowledge on the minorities and Indigenous peoples of the North, and between northern research institutions and students studying northern and Indigenous issues. The project is linked to the Masters in Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Tromsø, and was created by the Centre for Sami Studies and the Department of Sociology, Political Science and Community Planning (ISS).
Promising Future for Northern Research
The seminar held at the Centre for Sami Studies was directed at students in the master’s program in Indigenous Studies. Poelzer reported that he was impressed by students’ engagement and by how their questions were “cutting right to the core issues”. He looks forward to continuing his work with Focal Point North and their plans to create solid research projects and strengthen relationships between Arctic institutions.
See our interview with Greg Poelzer here.