August 11, 2022
Karla Jessen Williamson is an Associate Professor of Educational Foundations at the University of Saskatchewan and the first Inuk to be tenured at Canadian university. She is an Inuk from Greenland. She received her primary education in Greenland and attained her high school education in Denmark. Since moving to Canada, she undertook bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her third language (English) through the University of Saskatchewan. Her master’s thesis dealt with Inuit child-rearing practices as these relate to Inuit relationship to the land in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Her doctoral studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland involved studying gender relations in post-colonial Greenland Inuit communities from an emic point-of-view, offering insight on social construction of gender relations. Dr. Jessen Williamson has published books, articles, and book chapters. She has actively adjudicated for all three national granting councils, applying her extensive knowledge on research and processes as they involve Inuit and other Indigenous peoples in Canada and elsewhere. She was also appointed Executive Director of the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary, the first female Executive Director since its inception in 1945.
Dr. Jessen Williamson’s contribution to discourses on Indigenous epistemology and experiences of the colonial systems is well appreciated locally, nationally, and internationally and include bodies like the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples. She was appointed to Greenland Commission for Reconciliation that was finalized in 2017. While well versed in the written historical matters of colonialization, Dr. Jessen Williamson has found a niche whereby she analyzed the seemingly of polarized realities of colonizers and the colonized through Inuit lens of oral traditions. She speaks her Indigenous language fluently and uses the Inuit world view to address social and ecological justice.
She chairs the University of the Arctic Avatitsinni Committee and is a co-investigator of Inuit youth and climate change. The latter is a collaboration between Canadian researchers, Inuit communities and researchers from the UK universities.