Miranda Black is a non-status First Nations student whose lineage stems from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. She is a master’s candidate in Ryerson University’s Environmental Applied Science and Management program. Miranda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Environmental and Urban Sustainability from Ryerson University in 2018. She came to Ryerson University with a background in ecotourism management and has worked with several non-profit organizations as an administrative coordinator and researcher of corporate sustainability and climate risk in the financial sector, including Corporate Knights Magazine, Shift: Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health, and EcoSchools Canada.
Miranda is inspired to protect the Great Lakes with respect to her Haudenosaunee ancestors who lived on this land for generations prior to colonial settlement. Her research focuses on Toronto Island, which is a microcosm that is unique to land and water governance in the region and beyond. For generations, these islands have had a strong spiritual connection for the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Mississauga, the Anishinaabe and other Indigenous groups, which has gone mostly undocumented. When Indigenous Peoples were exiled after the Toronto Purchase, Indigenous Peoples continued to use the island as a camping spot when visiting their traditional territories. The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation filed the Toronto Purchase Land Claim in 1985, and in 2010, the Canadian government settled the land claim, but the land and water claim issues surrounding Toronto Island have not been fully resolved.
Miranda’s research focuses on Toronto Island and surrounding waters and the ways that Indigenous Peoples are calling out for better stewardship of the waters, including water and land claims. Using Indigenous qualitative methods and prioritizing Indigenous history and worldviews, Miranda’s research focuses on conversations and interviews with Indigenous Peoples who live in Toronto and residents of Toronto Island about the significance of human-environmental relationships and documenting their perspectives on water and land claims. Her research also explores how Indigenous views on land and water can provide the foundation for a stewardship approach to water governance and policy in Toronto, Lake Ontario and the Great Lakes region. Her research will make a significant contribution as part of the growing scholarship on how Indigenous views have been excluded in decisions related to water governance and policies even though the pressures on water have a direct impact on First Nations’ constitutional rights and paths to livelihoods. Her research will generate findings that are valuable for Indigenous peoples and include recommendations on how to move Indigenous perspectives and knowledge to the heart of water protection policies and practices, climate adaptation and environmental sustainability in Toronto and the Great Lakes region.
Funding as a Geoffrey Bruce Fellow in Canadian Freshwater Policy will allow Miranda to focus on her thesis research and increase awareness of the importance of Indigenous-led environmental management in the Great Lakes basin and author publications that can be used to support Indigenous knowledge in environment water stewardship and governance.