Queen's University launches new pre-doctoral fellowship for Indigenous students

A unique initiative by Queen's University will bring in four Indigenous PhD candidates to the university for a year to study and teach before receiving their doctorates.

University says it's part of its efforts to integrate Indigenous ways of knowing into curriculum

Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., will begin offering a pre-doctoral fellowship for Indigenous PhD candidates. (Submitted by Queen's University)

A unique initiative by Queen's University will bring Indigenous PhD candidates to the university for a year to study and teach before receiving their doctorates.

The fellowship will provide four Indigenous PhD candidates completing their doctorates at another university in any of the disciplines offered in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen's, with the opportunity to spend a year at the Kingston, Ont., university.

The idea came about when an Indigenous student told Dr. Lynda Jessup, associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, that she had applied for a pre-doctoral fellowship program in the United States.

A pre-doctoral fellowship is similar to a post-doctoral fellowship, except it's for students who are close to finishing their PhD.

Dr. Lynda Jessup, associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen's University. (Submitted by Queen's University )

"It supports them in those final stages of their doctoral work when they're putting the last parts of their project together and getting ready for their defence," said Jessup.

Pre-doctoral fellowships are uncommon in general, and this new fellowship is unique in Canada in that it is specifically for Indigenous students.

"It's all part of the effort at Queen's to indigenize the environment, to support a new generation of Indigenous scholars at a very formative moment in the completion of the doctorate," said Jessup.

"Queen's isn't looking to take the lead on Indigenization, it's looking to put the kind of supports in place that allows all the new generation to take the lead on this and to bring Indigenous ways of knowing into the academic environment much more than it has been to date."

Integrating Indigenous knowledge

The fellowship comes with a $34,000 annual stipend, teaching wages, and funds for research and conferences.

The student is also expected to teach an undergraduate course and contribute to the intellectual life at Queen's.​

The fellowship is part of the university's broader commitment to integrating Indigenous ways of knowledge and being across the curriculum, said Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Queen's director of Indigenous initiatives.

Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Queen's University's director of Indigenous initiatives. (Submitted by Queen's University )

"Rather than have a mandatory course, we're integrating it across every faculty and department," she said.

"The hope is that every student by the time they graduate will have the opportunity to engage with Indigenous ways of knowing and being."

Integrating Indigenous knowledge into the broader curriculum will provide all graduates with a better understanding of the relationships with Indigenous Peoples and histories across the country, said Hill.

There will be an information webinar about the fellowships on Feb.15.


Rhiannon Johnson is an Anishinaabe journalist from Hiawatha First Nation based in Toronto. She has been with the Indigenous unit since 2017 focusing on Indigenous life and experiences throughout Ontario. You can reach her at and on Twitter @rhijhnsn.