Nancy Van Styvendale, PhD, MA, BAH

Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies
Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Native Studies


Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies

Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Native Studies



Nancy Van Styvendale (B.A. Hon, Winnipeg; M.A, Simon Fraser; Ph.D., Alberta) is a white settler scholar who researches and teaches in the field of Indigenous literatures, with particular commitments to Indigenous prison writing; penal abolition; arts-based programs in prison; discourses of recovery and healing; and community-engaged/community-based education. Nancy is involved in a number of collaborative, community-driven teaching and research projects, including Inspired Minds, a creative writing program offered to incarcerated people in Alberta and Saskatchewan jails/prisons. She is a founding member of Free Lands Free Peoples, an Indigenous-led anti-colonial abolition collective, and the Saskatchewan-Manitoba-Alberta Abolition Coalition (SMAAC), a prairie network of abolitionist organizers and scholars.


Currently, Nancy is working on a number of related research projects: the first looks to understand the material and discursive possibilities and constraints of Indigenous prison writing, and the second interrogates the place of penal abolition in the settler colonial context of Canada, particularly from within Indigenous Studies methodological and theoretical frameworks. Building on previous work like Education to Heal, a collaboratively authored manifesto on the right to education in prison, Nancy is interested in working with incarcerated people on research creation projects as a community-driven mode of producing and disseminating knowledge about anti-colonial resistance in carceral space.

Nancy has published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Justice Studies, Engaged Scholar Journal, Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, and Studies in the Novel, as well as co-editing three collections: Global Indigenous Health: Reconciling the Past, Engaging the Present, Animating the Future (with R. Henry, A. Lavallee, and R. Innes) and Narratives of Citizenship (with A. Fleischmann and C. McCarroll), and The Arts of Indigenous Health and Wellbeing (with J. McDougall, R. Henry, and R. Innes). Nancy has also co-edited a special issue of Engaged Scholar Journal on community service-learning in Canada with S. Buhler and J. McDonald.


In the Faculty of Native Studies, Nancy has taught NS 111 (Contemporary Perspectives in Native Studies), NS 476 (Perspectives on Aboriginal Heath and Wellbeing), NS 590 (Community-Based Research), and NS 690 (Advanced Indigenous Research Methodologies). She also teaches NS 360, a special topics class on Indigenous prison writing. In all of her classes, Nancy brings the strength of her training as a literary scholar, which means that students have the opportunity to learn close reading analytical skills and discourse analysis, as well as getting to explore literary and artistic texts. 

Nancy's teaching philosophy is decidedly student-centered and participatory. She loves to learn from and with her students, and she is always encouraging them to share and build their views together in a thoughtful and collaborative manner. Whenever possible, Nancy incorporates community-based educational activities into her courses--whether that be asking students to attend a community event and write a reflection as a component of their class work, or asking them to engage more deeply in a term-long community-engaged individual or group project. Nancy believes that our collective learning is richer when we engage with each other and with the topics at hand in both academic and community spaces. 

If you are a graduate student with research interests in Indigenous prison writing, penal abolition, the criminalization of Indigenous peoples, carceral cultures, arts programs in prisons, and/or community-engaged or community-based education, please contact me to discuss how I might be able to support your research.


Nancy is currently recruiting graduate students with research interests in Indigenous prison writing, penal abolition, the criminalization of Indigenous peoples, carceral cultures, arts programs in prisons, and/or community-engaged or community-based education. 


NS 190 - Reading, Writing, and Communicating for Indigenous Studies

Through practical and incremental skill development, and with a focus on Indigenous Studies content, this course explores ways of learning and writing in the university environment and more specifically in the discipline of Indigenous Studies. Students will develop their analytical thinking skills by expanding their competencies in reading, composition, writing, research, and communication. Note: Restricted to students in the Faculty of Native Studies only.

NS 450 - Practicum in Indigenous Studies

A supervised work-based experience that will permit students to apply Indigenous Studies knowledge in a professional context thereby gaining an appreciation of the work environment. Prerequisites: Successful completion of 90 units, including a minimum of 9 units in Native Studies courses; a minimum GPA of 2.0 on the last 30 units; consent of the Faculty.

NS 550 - Research Practicum in Indigenous Studies

Students must undertake a 30-hour research project in consultation with an Indigenous organization or community chosen in coordination with the Practicum Coordinator.

Browse more courses taught by Nancy Van Styvendale

Featured Publications

Karrie Auger, Danielle Bird, Cory Cardinal, Megan Gnanasihamany, Serenity Joo, Molly Swain, Nancy Van Styvendale, and Belinda Wandering Spirit

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. 2022 April; 30 (2):10-34 10.18192/jpp.v30i2.6280

Nancy Van Styvendale

aboriginal policy studies. 2020 December; 9 (1):78-88

Nancy Van Styvendale

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. 2020 December; 29 (1&2):97-103

Free Lands Free Peoples

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. 2020 December; 29 (1&2):104-107

N. Van Styvendale, J. McDonald, & S. Buhler

Engaged Scholar Journal. 2018 January; 4 (1):i-xiii

Inspired Minds participants

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. 2016 January; 25 (2):136-139

Ed. R. Henry, A. Lavallee, N. Van Styvendale, & R. Innes

JD McDougall, Nancy Van Styvendale

Engaged Scholar Journal. 5 (2):213-232

S. Buhler, P. Settee, and N. Van Styvendale

Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research. 8