Rosanna Nicol is a quiet force to be reckoned with. Working in the field of Indigenous state relations, she has helped facilitate important work in Canada’s Indigenous communities. However, if asked, she wouldn’t say it was a ‘calling’. “I didn’t even know these jobs existed, really,” Rosanna says. “That’s kind of the fun thing about studying the liberal arts. It’s challenging, too. I feel very lucky.”
After finishing her master’s at Oxford, Rosanna and her husband moved to the Northwest Territories, which she says was the “beginning of her education to Indigenous state relations and modern treaties.”
Rosanna soon got involved with the community as a consultant, facilitating the building of laws and policies through workshops and meetings. She worked with the project Toxic Legacies, a research project focused on communicating the environmental hazards of the Giant Mine, a contaminated former gold mine outside of Yellowknife.
She also worked as a consultant with the Délįnę First Nation on the implementation of their Self Government Agreement, a project 18 years in the making. This was the first Indigenous/public government in the Northwest Territories.
“It’s humbling to see the tenacity and patience of people,” she says. “These are really long-standing relationships, so nothing is new, but it’s exciting to help push things forward.”
Rosanna loves that her work focuses on topics that address how society deals with challenges and builds relationships in a way that fosters well-being.
“Most of my projects are really collaborative; they involve bringing different organizations together and moving conversations along between different actors. Both of these projects, respectively, are about core challenges of our time—colonization, reconciliation, industrial waste, and how to leave our children something that’s positive and functioning.”
In 2017, Rosanna and her husband moved to Ottawa. She currently works with NVision, an Indigenous consulting firm which works to create online learning resources to increase awareness about Indigenous land claims. Rosanna facilitates bilateral government-to-government cooperation on collective issues.
“It’s a lot of taking care of the behind the scenes agreements, making sure that there are clear agendas, making sure that everyone has the space to articulate their knowledge and their expertise,” she says. “It’s important to not overstep the middle person role; (the priority is) being available for newcomers, making documents available.”
Rosanna says her time at King’s, especially in the Foundation Year Program (FYP) stimulated intellectual curiosity, and gave her the skills to pursue ideas and share and build knowledge with others in a creative way.
“It teaches a lot of initiative and work ethic and self-motivation,” she says. “FYP especially (teaches) that curiosity to critically engage with cultures and institutions and their histories. That’s really important for my work, to be aware and inquisitive and sensitive to those structures and histories and biases and agendas.”
Updated: Aug. 2020