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Rolling Hills

Dr. Kisha Supernant, PhD

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta

Director, Institute of Prairie & Indigenous Archaeology

President, Indigenous Heritage Circle




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Dr. Kisha Supernant (Métis/British) is the Director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology and a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. An award-winning teacher, researcher, and writer, her research interests include the relationship between cultural identities, landscapes, and the use of space, Métis archaeology, and heart-centered archaeological practice. 



I am a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta.


I am Métis through my father’s side of my family (my mother’s family is mostly British settler). My father is a Supernant/Supernault and was born in Edmonton. He was raised in foster care, so I grew up disconnected because my dad did not have the chance to know his family. After being raised on the west coast, I began reconnecting in my undergraduate program in the late 1990s so I could learn about my family. Over the past 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about my Métis kin and have met many living relatives. I am related to many Métis families in Alberta and throughout the homeland, with roots in the Red River settlement, as well as long connections to Cree and Mohawk communities. Some of the surnames of the ancestors from whom I’m descended, in addition to Supernault, include Knott, Pelletier/Campbell, Linklater, Gauthier/Gaucher, Gladu, Blandion/Dion, Desjarlais, Calihoo/Kwarakante, Grey/Gray/Gris, Nippising, and Cardinal.


I am accepted as a relative by my community. 



My research with Indigenous communities (including Métis and First Nations) in western Canada explores how archaeologists and communities can build collaborative research relationships and uphold Indigenous rights to cultural heritage. 


I have extensive experience in Indigenous archaeology, community engagement, and media engagement. I am the founder and director of the Exploring Métis Identity Through Archaeology (EMITA), a collaborative research project which takes a relational approach to exploring the material past of Métis communities, including my own family, in western Canada. My scholarship pushes the boundaries of archaeological research by integrating Indigenous ways of knowing and heart-centered practice into archaeological processes, from excavation to lab work to interpretation.  I am an expert in the use of technology such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing to support the research interests of Indigenous communities who are working to affirm their rights to tell their own histories and care for their own cultural heritage. 


Emerging from my community work has been my increasing engagement in using technologies to locate and protect unmarked burials around residential schools at the request of Indigenous communities throughout Canada. My expertise in using archaeological technology to search for unmarked graves around residential schools has earned attention both nationally and internationally, including being featured in prominent venues such as 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, New York Times International Feature, New York Times Investigative Documentary, BBC World News, VICE News Documentary, Global National News, among others. I currently serve the Chair of the Canadian Archaeological Association’s Working Group on Unmarked Graves, which won a 2024 Governor General’s Innovation Award and member of the National Advisory Committee on Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.


I have published widely in peer-reviewed journals on GIS in archaeology, collaborative archaeological practice, Métis archaeology, and Indigenous archaeology in the post-TRC era, as well as co-edited two books. I care deeply about community engagement and have a long history of knowledge mobilization beyond traditional academic venues. I was the first Indigenous scholar to be awarded the Faculty of Arts Research Award and the Martha Piper Research Prize at the University of Alberta. In 2019, I was named as one of Edmonton's Top 40 under 40 by Avenue Magazine and have been a keynote speaker at many venues. I have been involved with the Indigenous Heritage Circle since 2019 and currently serve as President. I have been inducted into the Royal Society of Canada's College of News Scholars, Artists, and Scientists in 2021 and received the Dorothy Killam Fellowship in 2023.



I have worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities over the past 20 years, where the needs and priorities of Indigenous communities are centered in my research projects to advance Indigenous rights to cultural heritage. I now direct the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology (IPIA), where we focus on community-led archaeological research and explore ways to transform archaeological practice, pedagogy, and policy to foster good relations. We prioritize community-led initiatives, uphold data sovereignty, and maintain transparency in all our activities. In building collaborative relationships, we emphasize empowerment and choice, ensuring that communities have a significant role in decision-making processes and creating opportunities for building community capacity. We are dedicated to upholding Indigenous data sovereignty wherever possible and working toward changing policy where it creates barriers to returning data to communities. When working in residential school contexts, we have developed a service model to be able to help when approached by communities for assistance where all the decision-making stays with our partners, including who is involved, how information is shared, and how the data are stored and protected.

For more information about the work of IPIA to transform archaeological practice, you can visit the IPIA website



The announcement came from the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF) at the end of April: The recipients of the ninth annual Governor General Innovation Award (GGIA) include The Canadian Archaeological Association Working Group on Unmarked Graves (CAAWGUG)


The Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal was awarded to approximately 7,000 Albertans throughout 2022 in recognition of significant contributions to the province.


To provide scholarships, fellowships, prizes and other funding to scholars who contribute to building Canada’s future and increasing the scientific attainment of Canadians through research excellence.

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