The Communication and Media Studies program congratulates Donald Leone who was awarded a Carleton University Senate Medal for Outstanding Graduate Work at the Fall 2021 convocation ceremony, held virtually on Saturday, November 13th. Leone graduated with his MA in Communication with a specialization in Data Science.  

Focusing on colonial governance in relation to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, Leone’s master’s thesis, Data Colonialism in Canada: Decolonizing Data through Indigenous Data Governance, examines how Indigenous data were constructed as colonial objects and asks, “what does it mean to decolonize these data and the practices which produce, manage and govern them?” The thesis maps the foundations of data colonialism, Indigenous data and decolonization as concepts and administrative practices, shows how the Canadian state used data as both a tool for classification and control of Indigenous peoples, and contrasts these practices with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis-led approaches to data governance. Donald’s research was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship. 

Dr. Tracey Lauriault, who supervised the thesis, says the research addressed complex social, technical, and data-focused problems using innovative methods, including content analysis and interviews with data governance experts, and makes valuable contributions to a broad range of literature in communication studies, Indigenous and Canadian studies, and critical data studies. Lauriault describes Leone’s study as “ingenious” in how it surfaces critical, evidence-based reflections of international data governance standards, and says “the results not only provide a way to decolonize research methods and data but will help build a way for communities to resist data colonialism and decolonize Indigenous data while creating a path toward data sovereignty.”  

It was important to Leone that his research have impact in academic, government and Indigenous communities where it can make a substantial difference to data governance policies and practices, including more responsive reconciliation measures. The research is already circulating among key policy analysts in federal granting agencies, as well as to the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and First Nation Information Governance Centre, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada. Leone will be turning his thesis into an academic monograph for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and for presentations at academic and professional associations. Lauriault described Leone’s commitment to knowledge mobilization as “praxis at its best.”  

More information about Carleton’s MA Communication program and its collaborative specializations, including data science, can be found on our website. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 in
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