Thomas McIlwraith (Assistant Professor)
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Personal Website Link:
Degree & Discipline:
PhD, Cultural Anthropology
University of British Columbia
Degree & Discipline:
MA, Cultural Anthropology
Indigenous Peoples, British Columbia, Canada, Ethnography, Ethnohistory, Athapaskan Peoples, Salish Peoples, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
I am a cultural anthropologist conducting research with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, Canada. In 2007, I completed a PhD in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, USA. I received a Master’s degree from the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 1995. And, I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and literature from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the department here at Guelph, I taught anthropology at Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia. I have also worked as a consulting anthropologist with First Nations communities throughout British Columbia and northern Alberta on projects related to land use planning, local and family history, and traditional knowledge.
My academic work involves the documentation of territoriality and the identification of rights of local Indigenous peoples to use land. These days, this usually means an effort to understand contemporary Indigenous land use in the context of mining and logging. My work includes an effort to understand the attitudes and biases that underpin consulting anthropology projects such as traditional land use and occupancy studies. I am also working on a project with the Canadian Camping Association to confront issues related to cultural appropriation at children's summer camps.
Teacher of the Year, Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges
Significant Research Contributions:
McIlwraith, Thomas. 2012. 'We Are Still Didene': Stories of Hunting and History from Northern British Columbia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Explanation of Significance:
Detailing the history of the aboriginal village of Iskut, British Columbia over the past 100 years, ‘We Are Still Didene’ examines the community's transition from subsistence hunting to wage work in trapping, guiding, construction, and service jobs.
Using naturally occurring, extended transcripts of stories told by the group's hunters, I explore how Iskut hunting culture and the memories that the Iskut share have been maintained orally.
I demonstrate the ways in which these stories challenge the idealized images of Aboriginals that underlie state-sponsored traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) studies. I instead illuminate how these narratives are connected to the Iskut Village's complex relationships with resource extraction companies and the province of British Columbia, as well as their interactions with animals and the environment.
McIlwraith, Thomas. 2012. A Camp is a Home and Other Reasons Why Indigenous Hunting Camps Can’t Be Moved Out of the Way of Resource Developments. The Northern Review. 36(2):97-126.
McIlwraith, Thomas. 2008. 'The Bloody Moose Got Up and Took Off': Talking Carefully About Food Animals in a Northern Athabaskan Village. Anthropological Linguistics. 50(2):125-147.
Alderete, John and Thomas McIlwraith. 2008. An Annotated Bibliography of Tahltan Language Materials. Northwest Journal of Linguistics. 2(1):1-26.
McIlwraith, Thomas and Raymond Cormier. 2016. Making Place for Space: Land Use and Occupancy Studies, Counter-Mapping, and the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot'in Decision . BC Studies. 188(Winter):35-53.
McIlwraith, Thomas. 2016. The Disorienting Dilemma in Teaching Introductory Anthropology. Teaching Anthropology. 6(1):57-65.
McIlwraith, Thomas. 2017. Arthur Nole (1940-2015): Tahltan Elder, Raconteur, and Friend. In Histories of Anthropology Annual: Volume 11. Historicizing Theories, Identities, and Nations. Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach, eds. Pp. 267-281. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press.
Other Research Outputs :
Splatsin Historical and Cultural Connections with the Columbia River and Arrow Lakes of British Columbia; Report Prepared for the Splatsin First Nation, 2013.
Harry Chingee: His Story of a Life Lived As a Hunter, Trapper, Logger and Sekani Headman; Report Prepared for the Chingee Family, 2014.
Yekooche First Nation, Review of Ethnographic and Historical Sources: Response to Ministry of Justice, Legal Services' Branch; Report Prepared for the Yekooche First Nation, 2013.
Notes on the Splatsin Southern Boundary with an Emphasis on Silver Star and Spallumcheen (Otter) Lake, in the North Okanagan; Report Prepared for the Splatsin First Nation, 2011.
Douglas College Professional Development Day
Title of Presentation:
Observing Difference and Finding Similarity: Engagements with Indigenous BC as a Teaching and Researching Anthropologist
Indigenous Statistics Conference
Title of Presentation:
The Importance of Qualitative Data in Resource Development Contexts