Gita Joan Ljubicic (Laidler)
School of Geography and Earth Sciences
General Sciences Building, Room 206
1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1
Phone: (289) 659-2074
I am a Geographer with training in the natural and social sciences, and I work primarily at the intersection of cultural and environmental geography. My work is driven by a deep commitment to respecting and learning from Indigenous knowledge alongside science in order to address complex socio-ecological issues. I am dedicated to a cooperative, community-driven approach to research that involves developing and fostering working relationships with Indigenous experts and organizations throughout all stages of the research process. Broadly speaking, I guide SUN team research efforts in three main areas:
I have primarily worked with Inuit community members and organizations in Nunavut, but through collaborations I have been involved in research with Inuit, Métis, and First Nations communities across the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik northern Québec), and Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador). I am of Euro-Canadian settler heritage, and over years of learning from Indigenous Elders and leaders across Canada I am continually humbled by their openness in sharing their depth of knowledge. I am also inspired by their insistence on the importance of working together for the common good, and helping people learn across generational and cultural contexts.
In all projects, I emphasize the importance of mutually respectful and beneficial relationships between everyone involved (including Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, academic and community researchers, government and non-governmental representatives, community and Indigenous organizations, among others). I believe that we must listen to, learn from, and work together in respectful ways to ensure that Indigenous knowledge and values are considered in research and decision-making that affect their homelands. This is often discussed in the language of reconciliation, but from my first experiences camping on the tundra as a Masters student in 2001 I was drawn towards community-engaged research as an ethical imperative. Since then I have worked with Inuit communities and academic partners to learn from Inuit knowledge about: sea ice, caribou, plants, and water in relation to implications of climate change, importance in northern lifestyles and livelihoods, and contributions to decision-making from local to national scales.
After 11 years of working in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University, I moved to the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University in 2019.
I grew up in Ottawa, the only child of two supportive parents that have been hugely influential in the learning journey that has brought me to this point. My family support has grown to include my husband and our two beautiful boys. I am so grateful for the many amazing academic and community mentors that have guided me along the way, to collaborators and students that continue to extend networks and research efforts, and to various funders and institutions for financial and logistical support.
For more details on my background and research projects, you can download my brief CV.