Sara Komarnisky

Manager of Research and Consultation Services, Hotii ts'eeda (NWT SPOR Support Unit)

Education: PhD (Anthropology), University of British Columbia

Home organization: Hotii ts'eeda (NWT SPOR Support Unit) Tłįchǫ Government

Research Statement: 

I am a settler anthropologist, ethnographer, and public scholar based in Yellowknife who researches, writes, and engages diverse audiences. I have experience leading projects that use multiple research methods on a variety of topics – from ethnography of transnational life, to material culture and archival research on hospital art and craft, to surveys about youth smoking and drinking, to community-based research to inform tuberculosis policy and the development of a renewed parenting program for NWT families. Fluent in Spanish, I developed a long term and award-winning research program focusing on global and trans-local processes within North America. My most notable work has occurred in three projects: lives and livelihoods of Mexican migrants in Alaska, the circulation of art and craft made by Indigenous patients at tuberculosis hospitals from the 1940s-1960s, and my present role as Manager of Research and Consultation Services for Hotıì ts'eeda. I am also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta and a mother to two children, Ingrid and Nils.

Description of Research Program:

With Hotıì ts'eeda, I lead research activities and initiatives. Hotıì ts'eeda is a health research connector for the NWT, funded by CIHR, hosted by the Tłįchǫ government, and governed by a council of NWT governments. I work with diverse organizations across the NWT, including Indigenous Governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories. Hotıì ts'eeda's vision is to support health research and training that is rooted in Dene Naowo, Inuvialuit and Métis knowledge and that responds to the needs of patients, communities and governments. The organization exists to revitalize and celebrate culture, improve capacity for individuals and families and support taking an evidence-based approach to policy. It is about moving control and ownership of research back to Indigenous peoples and communities. My ongoing work involves supporting community-based research throughout the NWT, developing tools and resources to ensure research is respectful, impactful, and grounded in Indigenous knowledge, to ensure that policy and program development is evidence based and driven by the needs of communities.

Scientific Contributions

1.  Komarnisky, Sara. (2020) “From the Sanatorium to the Museum and Beyond: The circulation of art and craft made by Indigenous patients at TB hospitals,” in Object Lives and Global Histories of Northern North America, B. Lemire, L. Peers, and A. Whitelaw, eds. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

2. Komarnisky, Sara. (2018) Mexicans in Alaska: An Ethnography of Mobility, Place, and Transnational Life. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

3. Komarnisky, Sara and Crystal Fraser. (2017) “150 Acts of Reconciliation for the Last 150 Days of Canada’s 150,” available at:

4. Komarnisky, Sara, Hackett, Paul, Abonyi, Sylvia, Heffernan, Courtney, and Long, Richard. (2015) “Years Ago”: Reconciliation and First Nations Narratives of Tuberculosis in the Canadian Prairie Provinces, Critical Public Health 26(4): 1-13.

5. Komarnisky, Sara, and Lindsay Bell, eds. (2015) “North, Interrupted,” Northern Public Affairs 3(3), available at: