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Martha Stiegman

Martha Stiegman

Associate Professor


PhD, Special Individualized Program, Concordia University
BA, English Literature & Political Science, McGill University

Research Keywords

Indigenous Knowledge, Rights & Food Sovereignty; Indigenous/Settler Alliances; Food Justice Movements; Visual Arts-Based Participatory Research Methodologies; Documentary & Video Activism.

Martha Stiegman

Contact Information

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

416 736 2100

Research Interests

Food Justice has framed my academic research, teaching, documentary filmmaking and community organizing for more than 15 years. I worked for seven years as a community organizer in Montreal’s food security and urban agriculture movement, then went on to graduate school to explore what land-based cross-cultural organizing around food sovereignty might look like in my home province of Nova Scotia. In my doctoral research I used participatory video to examine alliances between Bear River First Nation (Mi’kmaq) and neighboring non-Indigenous communities resisting fisheries privatization, in the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decision. 

My research / creation practice combines decolonizing research methodologies with participatory media production and dissemination strategies, to explore dynamics of accommodation and resistance within resource dependent and First Nation communities, in the context of neo-liberal transformations, as well as state-led Aboriginal and treaty right recognition processes. My interdisciplinary research is community-based, documenting peoples’ vision for ecological sustainability, social justice and dignity, in ways that deepen dialog within and across communities and strengthens their capacities for action. I am interested in processes of contestation: how people understand the barriers they face, the learning-in-action their organizing comes out of and contributes to, how local mobilization links to larger social movements, and the ways arts-based participatory research methodologies can contribute to these efforts. My research also analyzes the ways ever-evolving colonial relations are intersecting with neo-liberal transformations in economic relations and political governance, the consequences of these processes for community food security and Indigenous food sovereignty, as well as the possibilities for solidarity between Indigenous and settler communities resisting these forces.

Research Projects

From L’sitkuk to Kejimkujik: Connecting a new generation of guides through photovoice & participatory video (Atlantic Aboriginal Health Research Program, Research Project Grant)

This community-based participatory research project is grounded in the Seven Paddles: From L’sitkuk to Kejimkujik project, a watershed/forestry restoration and eco-tourism initiative covering 170,000 acres of land surrounding the present-day Bear River First Nation reserve (Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia). Seven Paddles aims to re/connect the people of L’sitkuk to lands and waters their ancestors travelled for more than 4000 years. Using photovoice and participatory video methods, our research is exploring youth perspectives about the value of re/connecting with traditional lands.

Research Output

A.Choudry, J.Hanley, S.Jordan, E. Shragge, Stiegman, M. (2009) Fight Back: Work Place Justice for Immigrants Toronto: Fernwood Books Ltd.

Loft, A., V. Freeman, M. Stiegman. (2020) By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto. Scapegoat:        Architecture/Landscape/Political Economy - c\a\n\a\d\a—delineating a capitalist nation state.

Stiegman, M. & Pictou, S. (2016) Resource Privatization, Treaty Rights Recognition, and Community Resistance in Maritime Canada. In Burnett, K. & Read, G. (Eds.) Aboriginal History: A Reader, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press. 

Sandberg, A., Stiegman, M., Thistle, J. “But Where am I?” Reflections on digital activism promoting Indigenous Peoples’ presence in a Canadian heritage village. In Thorpe, J., Rutherford, S. & Sandberg, A. (Eds.) Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research. Routledge.

Hanley, J., Stiegman, M., Speirs, K., & Lavigne, V. (2015). “Foreigners” on the family farm: An employment relationship with family on both sides. In S. Gervais, M.A. Poutanen, R. Iacovici (Eds.), Belonging and Diversity in Québec: Interdisciplinary and Historical Perspectives. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 

Stiegman, M & Castleden, H. (2015) Leashes & Lies. Navigating the colonial tensions of institutional ethics of research involving Indigenous peoples in Canada. International Indigenous Policy Journal  (*) A.Choudry, J.Hanley, S.Jordan, E. Shragge, M.Stiegman. (2009) Respet et résistence.  Revue du CREMIS. 2(4) 7-14.

Stiegman, M. (2012) Confessions of a Reluctant Food Activist. In A.Choudry, J. Hanley, & E. Shragge (Eds.) Organize! Building from the Local for Global Justice (pp. 266-277). Oakland, California: PM Press.

Stiegman, M. & S. Pictou. (2011) Resource Privatization, Treaty Rights Recognition, and Community Resistance in Maritime Canada in Burnett (ed) Aboriginal History: A Reader. Oxford University Press

Stiegman, M. & S. Pictou. (2010) How do you say Netuklimuk in English? Learning through video in Bear River First Nation. In Choudry & Kapoor. (eds.) Learning from the ground up: Global perspectives on social movements and knowledge production. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

May 2015. Canadian Association of Food Studies, University of Ottawa. Screening of Documentary film followed by discussion: Honour Your Word.

May 2015. Canadian Association of Food Studies, University of Ottawa. "What if we put Indigenous Food Sovereignty at the heart of our movement?" With Amber Giles, Mi’kmaq fisheries manager consultant.

May 2015. Canadian Association of Food Studies, University of Ottawa. "Deepening the Roots at Black Creek Community Farm: Narratives for Community Empowerment and Food Justice". With Victoria Ho (MES student).

Jumblies Theatre & Arts (Producer) Loft, A (Director), Stiegman, M. (Co-director). (2019) By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto. [Documentary Video] 30min. 

Stiegman, M. & Pictou, S. (Co-producers), Stiegman, M. (Director) (2016) We Story the Land. [Documentary Video] 29min.

Sandberg, A. (Producer) Stiegman, M. & Thistle, J. (co-directors). (2016) kiskisiwin | remembering. [Documentary Video] 8min.

Stiegman, M. & Productions Multi-Monde (Producers), & Stiegman, M. (Director). (2013) Honour Your Word / Tenir Parole. [Documentary Video]. 59min.

McMillan, J., Prosper, K., Davis, A., Stiegman, M. (Producers). Stiegman, M. & Prosper, K. (CoDirector). (2013) Seeking Netukulimk. [Documentary Video]. 22min.

Honour Your Word Film Festivals

2014  Istambul, Turkey. The Bosphorus International Film Festival

2014 Bozcaada, Turkey. Bozcaada International Festival of Ecological Documentary

2014 Washington DC. Society for Visual Anthropology Film, Video & Multi-Media Festival

2014 Toronto. Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival

2014 Guelf. Guelf Film Festival

2014  Vancouver. DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2014 Montreal. Cinema Politica

2013 San Francisco. American Indian Film Festival

Public and Community Events

2015 Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre, Halifax NS. Presented by the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre and the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative.

2014 Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation. Presented by Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, with community spokespeople from the Barriere Lake Algonquins. 

2014 Toronto. Black Creek Community Farm. Presented by the Toronto Black Farmers and Growers Collective, and FoodShare, with community spokespeople from Barriere Lake Algonquins. 

2014 Peterborough. Trent University, with community spokespeople from Barriere Lake Algonquins.

2014 Ottawa. Peoples’ Social Forum, with community spokespeople from Barriere Lake Algonquins.