The University of Winnipeg



Meet Indigenous Summer Scholar Caitlin Mostoway Parker

Caitlyn Mostoway Parker is hoping to gain valuable research experience this summer with Dr. Janis Thiessen and the Manitoba Food History Project.

Caitlin Mostoway Parker is hoping to expand her research experience through the Indigenous Summer Scholars Program (ISSP) before starting her virtual graduate studies with Trinity College Dublin this fall.

As a classics major, Mostoway Parker spent summers participating in archaeological digs, which confirmed her passion for studying ancient cultures. She’s also taken part in an interdisciplinary research project digitizing ancient artifacts in the Hetherington Collection.

Now, the recent University of Winnipeg graduate is working with Dr. Janis Thiessen and the Manitoba Food History Project.

“I’m looking forward to it because its history and it’s kind of in the same line as classics. It’s not ancient history, but it’s still history, so that’s what drew me to it,” she said before laughing and adding, “And I like food too, obviously.”

While the food truck won’t be travelling around the province this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thiessen already has Mostoway Parker undertaking different aspects of research.

“She is conducting a search in digitized Manitoba newspapers, which will assist our understanding of how food and its provision has changed over time in this province,” Thiessen explained. “And recording addresses from Henderson’s Directory to assist in our creation of a digital historical map of Winnipeg diners.”

She’s also transcribing recipes from audio recordings of oral history interviews that were previously conducted on board the Manitoba Food History food truck for an upcoming book. 

Being a part of ISSP is really important to Mostoway Parker not only for the research experience, but also because of the lack of representation among people of colour within the classics.

“Because classics has been historically known as being white dominated — and people of colour were often not welcome in the studies — it’s good for me to be involved in the ISSP as both a classicist and an Indigenous person,” she said.

This is Thiessen’s third straight year as a program researcher. She continues to be a mentor because she wants to help Indigenous students have the opportunity to discover how graduate studies may be a part of their future.

“Students experience the joys and frustrations of high-level original research in their partnerships with individual professors,” she noted. “And they learn relevant professional skills and cultural knowledge from the workshops provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.”

Throughout her studies, Mostoway Parker has been able to dig into a number of research opportunities not often afforded to undergraduate students, so it’s extremely fitting her final months at UWinnipeg were as part of the ISSP.

“The ISSP is, in my opinion, an excellent opportunity for researchers and Indigenous scholars alike. It’s so important to learn from each other,” she said. “I am eternally grateful to each and every professor who has helped me and encouraged me in my studies.

Hosted by UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Indigenous Summer Scholars Program strengthens the pathways for Indigenous students to move into advanced study and, ultimately, into leadership roles in various sectors. Scholars are paired with faculty members, many of whom are involved in Indigenous research.

The summer scholars receive training stipends to participate in the program, which consists of a series of workshops and discussions exploring a variety of research skills, in addition to the opportunity to practice and hone those skills in a specific research project.

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