Newly launched Anishinaabe Kendaasiwin Institute supporting Indigenous self-determination in Northwestern Ontario

Group photo

AKI Director Dr. Lana Ray, centre, with two of the grandmothers who advised on the institute - Dorothy Taylor,
second from left, and Sherry Copenace, second from right. Also included are Denise Baxter, left, from the Office
of Indigenous Initiatives, and Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, whose departments
sponsored the Institute.


May 30, 2022 – Thunder Bay, Ont. 

The Anishinaabe Kendaasiwin Institute (AKI) was launched on Monday, May 30 at Lakehead University.

“Anishinaabe Kendaasiwin” – which loosely translates to “Anishnaabe knowledge systems” – is central to the mandate of AKI, which seeks to support mino-bimaadiziwin among Anishinaabe peoples, nations and territories through research that is situated in Anishinaabe Kendaasiwin and good relationships.

“Historically, research has been extractive in nature – to the detriment of Indigenous peoples and lands,” said Dr. Lana Ray, AKI’s Director.

The Institute seeks to privilege Anishinaabe ways of knowing and being in research, to advance research excellence defined by Anishinaabe peoples and principles, to expand and support Indigenous governed and driven research and to support community building and mobilization between Indigenous peoples.

“AKI was founded on the premise that if research is done right it can play an important role in advancing the visions and needs of Indigenous peoples and lands,” Dr. Ray said.

“We at AKI are committed to engaging in research that is relevant to Indigenous peoples and meets Indigenous defined ethical standards,” she added.

“We are very excited and supportive of the launch of AKI,” said Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

“This Centre will provide an important avenue for the creation and stewardship of Indigenous knowledge. Congratulations to Dr. Lana Ray for developing this research Centre.” 

AKI has already begun its work, hosting “Telling Our Stories: Indigenous Self-Determination in Data and Research,” a regional Native American and Indigenous Studies Association conference.

“The Telling Our Stories: Indigenous Self-Determination in Data and Research” conference is a two-day event that is bringing together Indigenous organizations, communities, and scholars to discuss Indigenous and anti-colonial approaches to research, data governance and ethics and engage in planning work.

“We are so pleased at AKI to be hosting this conference to raise up the important work of Indigenous scholars and communities who are reclaiming their roles as storytellers of their nations,” Dr. Ray said.

“By reclaiming our roles as data stewards, we actively assert our right to be self-determining and advance decolonial futures.”



AKI logo

 AKI logo.

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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2022 World Universities Rankings for the third consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit