Sheryl Lightfoot is Anishinaabe, a citizen of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe, enrolled at the Keweenaw Bay Community. She is currently Vice Chair and North American Member on the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). She is Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, and Associate Professor in Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs as well as a faculty associate in the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. She is also Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs and is leading the implementation of the 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan across UBC and directs UBC’s Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives. She is currently serving as President of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).
As one of the world’s experts in global Indigenous politics, Sheryl’s research specializes in complex questions of Indigenous peoples’ rights and how those rights are being claimed and negotiated. Her work explores both practical and theoretical aspects of implementation of Indigenous rights globally as well as in domestic contexts. She is the author of Global Indigenous Politics: A Subtle Revolution as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters.
She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Minnesota as well as a master’s degree from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Prior to her academic career, she had fifteen years’ volunteer and contract experience with a number of American Indian tribes and community-based organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including nine years as Chair of the Board of the American Indian Policy Center, a research and advocacy group.
As a member of the UN Expert Mechanism Sheryl provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Mechanism also assists Member States in achieving the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She is the first Indigenous woman from Canada to be appointed to this prestigious position.
For additional information please view my profile with the First Nations and Indigenous Studies here.
Global Indigenous Politics: A Subtle Revolution. “Worlding Beyond the West” series. (Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge, 2016).
Lightfoot, Sheryl. “What should we do?”: Returning Fractionated Allotments Back to the Tribes, One Family’s Story,” pp. 55-62 in Jean O’Brien and Daniel Heath Justice, eds., Allotment Stories: Indigenous Land Relations under Settler Siege, University of Minnesota Press.
Lightfoot, Sheryl. “Chapter 8: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: An invitation to boldness,” pp. 141-154 in Trading Justice for Peace? Reframing Reconciliation in TRC Processes in South Africa, Canada and Nordic Countries. Edited by Sigrídur Gudmarsdóttir, Paulette Regan and Demiane Solomons. AOSIS Publishing, South Africa.
Lightfoot, Sheryl. “Collectivity as Indigenous Anti-Celebrity: Global Indigeneity and the Indigenous Rights Movement.” Chapter in Indigenous Celebrity, edited by Jennifer Adese and Robert A. Innes. (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2021) 221-242.
Lightfoot, Sheryl. “Conclusion.” Invited chapter in Pathways to Reconciliation. Edited by Aimee Craft and Paulette Regan (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2020) 268-279.
“The United Nations and both Foe and Friend to Indigenous Peoples and Self-Determination,” co-authored with David B. MacDonald. Invited chapter in The United Nations: Friend or Foe of Self-Determination? (Bristol, England, E-International Relations Publishing, 2020) 32-46.
“First Nations and Canadian Defence.” Invited chapter in Canadian Defence Policy in Theory and Practice. Edited by Thomas Juneau, Philippe Lagassé and Srdjan Vucetic (Nature, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) 217-232.
“The Pessimism Traps of Indigenous Resurgence.” Pessimism in International Relations: Provocations, Possibilities, Politics. Edited by Time Stevens and Nicholas Michelsen (Nature, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) 155-172.
“Legislative Frameworks for Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Braiding Legal Orders: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, edited by Oona Fitzgerald, John Borrows, Larry Chartrand, Risa Schwatrz (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019) 21-28.
“Indigenous-Canadian Relations at the Sesquicentennial: An Opportunity for Real and Lasting Transformation,” in Policy Transformation in Canada: Is the Past Prologue? Edited by Carolyn Hughes Tuohy, Sophie Borwein, Peter Loewen and Andrew Potter (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019) 124-131.
“Implementing the UN Declaration: The View from Canada” in Conversations about Indigenous Rights: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. Edited by Selwyn Katene and Rawiri Taonui (Massey University Press, New Zealand, 2018) 75-92.
“A Promise Too Far?: The Justin Trudeau Government and Indigenous Rights” in Canada Among Nations, eds. Norman Hillmer and Phillipe Lagasse (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018) 165-186.
“Adopting and Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Canada’s Existential Crisis” in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal, edited by Kiera L. Ladner and Myra Tait (Winnipeg, MB: ARP, 2017) 440-459.
“Revealing, Reporting and Reflecting: Indigenous Studies Research as Praxis in Reconciliation Projects” in Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies, edited by Chris Andersen and Jean O’Brien. (Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge, 2016) 297-304.
“Indigenous Mobilisation and Activism in the UN System,” in Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, edited by Damien Short and Corinne Lennox (Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge, 2015), 253-267.
“Marge Anderson: Restoring the Treaty Rights of the Mille Lacs Band,” in “Our Cause Will Ultimately Triumph” Profiles in American Indian Sovereignty, ed. Tim Alan Garrison (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2014), 143-156.
“The International Indigenous Rights Discourse and its Demands for Multilevel Citizenship,” in Multilevel Citizenship, ed. Willem Maas (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 127-146.
A Leopard Can’t Hide its Spots: Unmasking Opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” UBC Law Review, Special Issue on British Columbia’s Bill 41-2019: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act 53 (2021): 1147-1184.
“Decolonizing Self-Determination: Haudenosaunee Passports and Negotiated Sovereignty.” European Journal of International Relations, 2021, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/13540661211024713.
“Settler State Apologies to Indigenous Peoples: A Normative Framework and Comparative Assessment.” Native American and Indigenous Studies 2 (2015): 15-39.
“Selective Endorsement without Intent to Implement: Indigenous Rights and the Anglosphere.” The International Journal of Human Rights 16 (2012): 100-122.
“Emerging Indigenous Rights Norms and ‘Over-Compliance’ in New Zealand and Canada.” Political Science 62 (2010): 84-104.
“Indigenous Rights in International Politics: The Case of ‘Over-Compliant’ Liberal States.” Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 33 (2008): 83-104.
Grunow, Tristan R. Fuyubi Nakamura, Katsuya Hirano, Mai Ishihara, ann-elise lewallen, Sheryl Lightfoot, Mayunkiki, Danika Medak-Saltzman, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson & Tomoe Yahata (2019): Hokkaidō 150: settler colonialism and Indigeneity in modern Japan and beyond, Critical Asian Studies, DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2019.1665291.
Lightfoot, Sheryl and David MacDonald. “Treaty Relations between Indigenous Peoples: Advancing Global Understandings of Self-Determination.” New Diversities Special Issue “Indigenous Politics of Resistance: From Erasure to Recognition,” 19 (2017): 25-40.
Wilkins, David E. and Sheryl Lightfoot, “Oaths of Office in Tribal Constitutions: Swearing Allegiance, but to Whom?” American Indian Quarterly 32 (2008): 389-411. I conducted all research for this article from a tribal constitutions database that was constructed and owned by Dr. Wilkins. Dr. Wilkins wrote pages 389 to 391 (through second paragraph); I wrote pages 391 (third paragraph) to 411. Dr. Wilkins was Chair of my Ph.D. committee.
Lightfoot, Sheryl. Unfinished Business: Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, Essay no. 3, Montreal, Institute for Research on Public Policy. In English: https://centre.irpp.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2020/09/Unfinished-Business-Implementation-of-the-UN-Declaration-on-the-Rights-of-Indigenous-Peoples-in-Canada.pdf, and in French: https://centre.irpp.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2020/09/La-mise-en-%C5%93uvre-de-la-D%C3%A9claration-des-Nations-Unies-sur-les-droits-des-peuples-autochtones.pdf
Lightfoot, Sheryl. Indigenous Laws and Governance in Indigenous Self-Developed FPIC Protocols: An Expert Contribution to the ‘Implementing Consent for Mining on Indigenous Lands’ Project for the B.C. First Nations Energy and Mining Council. October 2020. Available at: http://fnemc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Sheryl-Lightfoot-Expert-Paper-Indigenous-Legal-Framework.pdf
I am interested in supervising graduate students doing research in Indigenous politics, especially on the transnational and global levels.
Alison James, Political Science
Gudrun Ros Arndottir, Political Science
Matthew Norris, Political Science
Carson Ball, MA, Political Science
Chelsea Parker, MA, Political Science
Jose Arias, PhD, Forestry
Jessica Koski, PhD, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Profile on the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs: https://sppga.ubc.ca/profile/sheryl-lightfoot/