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 moderator, along with Vicki Chartrand, of the Abolition Network, an online community of activists and scholars dedicated to imagining a world beyond prisons and carceral culture more broadly. When not facilitating classes at the university or in prison, Nancy can be found reading at the beach (weather permitting) or lounging at home with her three cats: Lucy, Olive, and Eddard.


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 two 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). A further collection, The Arts of Indigenous Health and Wellbeing (with J. McDougall, R. Henry, and R. Innes) is under review with the U of Manitoba Press. 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 taught NS 360, a special topics class on Indigenous prison writing, which will be offered again in Spring 2020. 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 in classes where they might not otherwise encounter such 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 111 - Contemporary Perspectives in Indigenous Studies

An introductory survey of current issues affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada and their efforts to confront their colonial relationships with and within Canadian society. Not open to students with credit in NS 211. Sections may be offered in a Cost Recovery format at an increased rate of fee assessment; refer to the Fees Payment Guide in the University Regulations and Information for Students section of the Calendar.

Winter Term 2021
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, including a minimum of *9 in Native Studies courses; a minimum GPA of 2.0 on the last *30; consent of the Faculty.

Winter Term 2021
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.

Winter Term 2021
NS 590 - Community-Based Research

This seminar explores issues in the area of community-based research using case studies and teaches some relevant field research skills using hands-on exercises. Methodological concerns focus on the political, cultural, ethical and practical aspects of conducting community-based research in conjunction with Indigenous groups and communities.

Fall Term 2020
NS 690 - Advanced Indigenous Methodologies

This course gives students a thorough conceptual understanding of the key methodological principles and research concepts seminal to the discipline of Indigenous Studies. Students will gain proficiency in Indigenous methodologies and the skills to comprehend, design, and implement method relevant to their specific research area, including the use of existing Indigenous methods and the creation of new methods to answer complex research problems. Students will be able to articulate methodological strategies to produce meaningful research 'with' as opposed to 'on' Indigenous communities. Students will begin to develop the skills to carry out advanced research within academic, community and/or applied settings.

Fall Term 2020

Browse more courses taught by Nancy Van Styvendale


Community Service-Learning in Canada: Emerging Conversations
Author(s): N. Van Styvendale, J. McDonald, & S. Buhler
Publication Date: 2018
Publication: Engaged Scholar Journal
Volume: 4
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: i-xiii
External Link:
Education to Heal: A Manifesto by Men who are Incarcerated
Author(s): Inspired Minds participants
Publication Date: 2016
Publication: Journal of Prisoners on Prisons
Volume: 25
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 136-139
External Link:
Global Indigenous Health: Reconciling the Past, Engaging the Present, Animating the Future
Author(s): Ed. R. Henry, A. Lavallee, N. Van Styvendale, & R. Innes
External Link:
Reading Experience as Communitist Practice: Indigenous Literatures and Community Service-Learning
Author(s): JD McDougall, Nancy Van Styvendale
Publication: Engaged Scholar Journal
Volume: 5
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 213-232
External Link:
(Re)Mapping Justice in Saskatoon: The wâhkôhtowin Project’s Digital Justice Map
Author(s): S. Buhler, P. Settee, and N. Van Styvendale
Publication: Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research
Volume: 8
Page Numbers: 146-180
External Link: