Heather Castleden is a white Settler scholar-ally, trained as a health geographer. She undertakes community-based participatory research (CBPR) in partnership with (often) Indigenous peoples, communities, organizations, and Nations, on their priority issues that fall within her thematic areas of expertise: the nexus of cultures, places, power/resistance, and relational ethics. Heather holds a joint appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and the Department of Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She is also the Research Director of the Health, Environment, and Communities Research Lab . Her program of community-based social, health and environment research is primarily unified through: 1) participatory research with Indigenous partners concerning issues that are important to them; 2) shared development and testing of innovative qualitative research tools that adhere to Indigenous principles for decolonizing methodologies; and 3) engagement in studies concerning the ethical tensions and institutional barriers associated with community-based participatory research processes and outcomes.
Heather’s career trajectory is to build a program of integrated, methodologically- and ethically-sound community-based participatory research in Canada. Her research is geared towards developing a response to environmental, health, and other issues in a way that maintains her record of engaging in innovative scholarship that plans for and creates positive change. She would describe her work as the product of a balancing act between academic engagement and advocacy.
Heather obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Native Studies from the University of Manitoba (1996), a Master of Education Degree in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Alberta (2002), and a PhD in Health and Environmental Geography from the University of Alberta (2007). She went on to hold NEARBC (2008) and SSHRC (2009) Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Victoria and then took up a tenure-track appointment at Dalhousie University (2009-2014). In 2010 she received the Canadian Association of Geographers’ Julian M. Szeicz Award, which is presented annually in recognition of significant research achievement by a Canadian Geographer at an early career stage, specifically in recognition of her contribution to the geography of environment, health and Indigenous community-based participatory research. Health is a CIHR New Investigator in the area of Knowledge Translation (2013-2018), and now a Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities (2016-20).
Heather is currently the Principal Investigator for “A SHARED Future” (Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future) project.