Jess Dunkin, PhD

Education: PhD

Research Statement

Jess Dunkin (she/her) is a settler historian and writer who has lived in Sǫ̀mba K’è (Yellowknife, NT) since 2015. Jess has degrees in history and education from Trent University and Carleton University. Before moving to Yellowknife, Jess was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University. Her first book, a monograph about the social and spatial politics of canoeing in late-nineteenth-century North America, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2019.

Trained as a social historian of sport and leisure, Jess’s research interests have expanded and shifted since moving north in response to community collaborations and priorities to also include histories of residential schooling, land relations and stewardship, and industrial development.

Jess is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation at the University of Alberta.

Research Program in the NWT

Jess is currently involved in collaborative research projects related to recreation at residential schools and the history of petroleum extraction at Tłegǫ́hłı̨ (Norman Wells).

How I Survived” is a collaboration between the NWT Recreation and Parks Association (NWTRPA) and University of Alberta. Guided by a committee of Survivors and intergenerational Survivors, the purpose of this project is to gather and share the stories of residential and day school Survivors about recreation. This project provides Survivors with an opportunity to share their experiences with the public and will also preserve their stories for future generations.

The Petroleum Histories Project was designed by Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board – SRRB) and the Norman Wells, Tulı́t’a, and Fort Good Hope Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę (Renewable Resources Councils), with input from the Nę K’ǝ Dene Ts’ı̨lı̨ –  Living on the Land Forum. The purpose of this project is to document the history and impacts of the oil industry at Norman Wells in order to support Sahtú Dene and Métis participation in regulatory processes related to ongoing operations and closure and reclamation of the Norman Wells oil field and to strengthen present and future In­digenous roles in monitoring, stewardship, and decision-making.

Significant Contributions

Co-author with Walter Bezha and Deborah Simmons. “Dechı̨ta Nezǫ Gots’udı́ – Living Well on the Land.” Xàgots’eèhk’ǫ̀ (under review).

Co-author with John B. Zoe. “Dè Goı̨zı̀ (Place Names).” In Being Indigenous Archaeologists: Reckoning New Paths Between Past and Present Lives. Eds. George Nicholas and Joe Watkins. Routledge (forthcoming).

With the Petroleum Histories Project Team. “A Century of Petroleum Extraction at Tłegǫ́hłı̨ (Norman Wells).” Post for 5 December 2023.

Co-author with Crystal Gail Fraser. “This Year Book…has been entirely produced by staff and students”: Indigenous Youth, Indian Schooling, and Historical Production in the Northwest Territories, 1959–71.” Historical Studies in Education 35, no. 1 (Spring 2023): 65-94.

Co-author with Jean Polfus and Tee Lim. “In Memoriam: Deborah Simmons.” Xàgots’eèhk’ǫ̀ 1, no. 1 (2022): 162-4.

Co-author with John B. Zoe. “Indigenous Land and Rights.” In Lines in the Snow: Thoughts on the Past and Future of Northern Canadian Policy Issues. Eds. Clive Desire-Tesar and Whitney Lackenbauer, 11-21. Ottawa: Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, 2021.

Co-author with John B. Zoe. “Whaèhdǫǫ̀ Etǫ K’è.” In The Politics of the Canoe. Eds. Bruce Erickson and Sarah Wylie Krotz. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2021.

Canoe and Canvas: Life at the Encampments of the American Canoe Association, 1880-1910. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.