School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

The real stories of Indigenous women – Meet Elisha Corbett

PhD Candidate in Political Studies    

by Phil Gaudreau, April 2020

Amy Cleaver

Elisha Corbett’s (Artsci’16) university studies have done more than provide her with useful information – they have also helped her embrace her Indigenous heritage. Elisha was born in Burlington, but her family comes from the southern United States.

“We didn’t talk about our heritage much because there wasn’t a lot of pride in being Indigenous in that area,” she says.

As she began her undergraduate studies in political studies and drama, she became interested in the portrayal of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit (MMIWG2S) people in the media and the disparity between how mainstream media and Indigenous-focused media spoke about the stories. This research program stemmed from witnessing the negative stereotypes about Indigenous people in the United States and how this impacted her family.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Elisha left Queen’s for her masters but continued to pursue the topic and has now returned for her PhD. She is currently in her third year, and recently received the 2019-2020 Jean Royce Fellowship.

“As part of my research, I want to look at both how the same story is told differently across the two media environments and also look at how these stories frame public opinion,” she says.

To accomplish this, Elisha–working with a research firm–will be gathering different groups of participants, showing them stories about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and following up with surveys to determine if the participants’ attitudes change regarding the topic.

“I hope to give voice to Indigenous women doing amazing things with media and identify the types of changes journalists can make to truthfully represent Indigenous women,” she says.

Elisha’s hope is to follow this research up with post-doctoral studies focused on the American media’s reporting on the same topic, and eventually obtain a faculty position.

During her studies, Elisha has also had the opportunity to work with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She was a senior researcher where she produced two final chapters in the final report Reclaiming Power and Place, one on media representation of MMIWG2S, and one on the criminalization of Indigenous women.

Elisha says she decided to return to Kingston for her PhD because it reminds her of her hometown with its small and friendly feel and the proximity of Lake Ontario, and its central location near to Toronto and her partner in Ottawa. She also wanted the opportunity to work with her co-supervisors, Dr. Jonathan Rose and Dr. Elizabeth Goodyear Grant.

Outside of time on campus, Elisha can be found running and making beaded earrings as a hobby and small business. She is also a member of Queen’s Female Leadership in Politics.

Learn more about the PhD in Political Studies program.