Graduate students


I am privileged to work with a number graduate students in the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice on community mapping related projects and research.  If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in participatory mapping, community mapping, participatory geoweb and or spatial justice related issues please contact me. To date I supervise five research assistant/students and three that have just graduated.

Nick Blackwell - CSSEJ Geoweb Programmer

Nick Blackwell joined the Center for Social, Spatial, and Economic Justice in June 2009 and is currently serving as a Level 3 Research Assistant for Dr. Jon Corbett. Before joining the Centre, Nicholas earned a Diploma in Electronic Engineering Technologies from Okanagan University and College in 2004.  Following the completion of his diploma at OUC, Nick enrolled in the University of British Columbia – Okanagan to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science.  In 2009, Nicholas was hired for a work-study position at the Centre for Social, Spatial, and Economic Justice.  His primary responsibilities as a Research Assistant for the Centre include designing web applications for the Joomla CMS and managing the development of Geolive, a Web 2.0 information sharing tool, which is an interactive mapping interface based on the Google Maps API.  Geolive, the main concentration of Nicholas’s work, serves as a distributable web component for Joomla that allows administers to create public maps, as well as place user-generated information on those maps. The web application also gives members and visitors the ability to add content into each map, while simultaneously communicating through live discussion points. Nicholas has also created numerous content and functionality extensions for Geolive providing members of the virtual community with more options when implementing user-created data, as well as giving them more flexibility when adding information onto the interactive maps. 

In addition to managing the development of Geolive, Nick provides technical assistance for graduate students by providing custom web design and creating web applications for their projects.  He has experience working with the GIS programs MapGuide and ArcGIS, which he has utilized when aiding his colleagues in the practical application of their research.  Over the course of his time at the Centre for Social, Spatial, and Economic Justice, Nicholas has been directly involved with several projects including the Okanagan Conservation Planning Program, Firehistory Mapping in the Okanagan, and Community Food Mapping.  For more information on Nick’s most recent work please visit:

Gabrielle Legault PhD student. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan

Gabrielle Legault is Métis from southwest Saskatchewan and has a background in historical archaeology and indigenous studies. Her Master’s research focused on examining the indigenous identities of the Okanagan’s historic McDougall family. Gabrielle has experience working with provincial and local Métis organizations as she is an executive board member for the Métis Community Services Society of BC and has been conducting collaborative research with Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) since 2008. Gabrielle’s work with MNBC included developing complex archival map-based databases, facilitating consultations with Parks Canada and coordinating community engagement workshops on issues related to the Métis presence on the land. Her PhD research will use participatory mapping to examine the cultural ecology of Métis traditional land use (TLU) activities in British Columbia’s Flathead Valley. Furthermore, Gabrielle’s research will explore the idealization of connections to land as a central construct of Métis identity.

Menno Salverda PhD student. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan

Menno Salverda is a PhD student with UBC (Okanagan). He does Interdisciplinary research with Community, Culture and Global Studies.  His research focuses on how to integrate values that are hidden from market driven abstract commodity notions such as supply and demand. He argues that real alternatives to our food system need to integrate elements such as dialogue between different actors to learn about interdependence and look beyond an individual perspective to food.  Consumers may for example then consider their expenses for food not only as an expense on their household budget, but as an investment in healthy community food production. New approaches to valuation (so beyond markets) will enable a productive environment for creating equitable exchange mechanisms of food, supported by policies at different scales.

Menno has a Msc degree in international development economics, a Bsc degree in tropical agriculture and has over 20 years of experience in community development in various cultural contexts, including the Okanagan. Apart from his PhD, he is involved in part-time consultancy work for example conducting trainings in the area of facilitating social learning and multi-stakeholder processes in an international context.

Samantha Brennan - M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (finished)

Samantha Brennan is a new Masters student, having just graduated from UBC Okanagan in June with a Major in geography and a Minor in history. Last year she (left) and Aidan Whiteley (right) were heavily involved in creating a Geolive map of forest fire burn areas in the Okanagan over the last 25 years, imbedding it into a website and presenting on the results at several conferences, winning best Undergraduate Presentation at the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers.  The project had so much interest and potential that it is being expanded into a Masters project so that the website, can reach it’s highest potential and usability, easily collecting and disseminating information on the many forest fires in the Okanagan Valley. By April the site will be fully completed and ready for the 2011 forest fire season.

Michael Martin - M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (finished)

Michael Martin joined the Centre for Social, Spatial & Economic Justice in September 2010 to pursue a masters of arts in IGS at UBCO. Before working in the centre Michael received his BSc. (Hon) from Queen’s University in GIS and Physical Geography and also spent a year in East Africa working with non governmental organizations in Ethiopia and Kenya. While in Ethiopia Michael taught GIS to a number of organizations and also worked closely with Agri Service Ethiopia, Oxfam Canada, Farm Africa and the International Livestock Research Institute on GIS projects relating to rural poverty reduction, drought preparedness and user interface design. In Kenya Michael worked with World Neighbors, the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute and The World Agroforestry Centre teaching GIS and working on projects related to community asset mapping.

Currently, Michael is building on his experiences in East Africa starting a project called Mapping Across Borders. Mapping Across Borders is an initiative to bring both training and mentorship to NGOs that want to get started using GIS in their activities by providing access to open source software, training materials and mentorship from GIS students in Canada. To find out more information about Mapping Across Borders or to know how you can get involved, check out

Shayne Wright - M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (finished)

Shayne joined the Centre for Social Spatial and Economic Justice in January 2010 as a Master's candidate in IGS.  Since completing his Honours BA in Economics, he worked for many years as a software and GIS specialist.  In the past he worked exclusively with large companies and bureaucracies developing GIS for optimized transportation routing, to achieve more efficient operations.  After moving to the Okanagan region from Toronto in 2002 he began working with smaller businesses and community groups, finding ways to offer similar benefits at the local community scale.

His current work involves developing geographic information technologies for the geospatial internet (Geoweb).  He is assisting on a number of community mapping projects providing user interface design, GIS mapping support and training.  He is also coordinating a community mapping project in partnership with Interior Health, UBCO and the Central Okanagan Food Planning Council;  supported by a RIG grant from the Institute for Health Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, it uses public participation on the Geoweb to engage community dialogue on the local food system.  His research interests include technology and maps for engagement, participation and learning, and societal implications of the GeoWeb.

Raquel (Rocky) Mann – M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (completed as MLIS UBC Vancouver)

Cross-disciplinary studies have been a pursuit throughout my academic career. At UVic, I majored in both Environmental Studies and Fine Arts with a focus on playwriting and film.  During my final undergraduate year, I was able to combine both disciplines in a research project where I helped to facilitate the making of a Participatory Video (PV) in collaboration with the Tlowitsis Nation of Vancouver Island, the UVic Spatial Sciences Lab and my current Masters supervisor, Dr. Jon Corbett. The Tlowitsis Homecoming DVD provided a rare opportunity for community members to come together, experience traditional territories, critically reflect important issues, have fun and learn to work with digital technology media.

I joined Dr. Corbett in the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice in 2007 to pursue an MA in IGS at UBCO. With the support of a fellowship from the Métis Nation of British Columbia (MNBC), I have been privileged to work with Dr. Mike Evans, Stephen Foster and the MNBC to complete an interactive DVD entitled “The Métis of British Columbia: Culture, Tradition and the Contemporary Community”. For this production I contributed as an editor, videographer, and conducted interviews with members of various Métis communities in BC.

The final product will be used as an educational tool in BC high school curriculum. In 2009, I was invited to work again with Dr. Jon Corbett and the Tlowitsis First Nation to create an Interactive, Map-based, Land Tour DVD for use by community members.

Participation in these DVDs support my thesis research about how community-based, digital media projects can engage dispersed membership in community development and planning, reconstituting collective identity, shared creative experience and information exchange. 

Patrick Allen - M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (finished)

Since 2003, I have both volunteered and worked for environmental NGOs in the Okanagan Valley of BC on developing online mapping tools to support conservation based land-use planning initiatives in the region.  Through this work I became interested in determining more effective methods of supporting shared efforts to address local conservation issues and informing the public of these efforts.  

In 2007 I began research studies at UBCO under the supervision of Dr. Jon Corbett in order to develop my understanding of web-based participatory engagement tools and research their effectiveness within local conservation efforts.  Over the past three years I have

evaluated the design, development and use of web-based tools for supporting the efforts of partners in the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program as a case study for my research.  Based on the findings of this evaluation, I completed my thesis titled ‘Participating on the Geoweb’ in Sept 2010.  My thesis addresses the question, ‘is the Geoweb an effective tool for supporting participation in local-level environmental governance, and if so, in what ways’.  Currently, I am continuing to explore the potential of the Geoweb for supporting participatory planning processes as a research assistant with Dr. Chris Gore at Ryerson University.  My main interest in this research is determining the sustainability of the Geoweb as a participatory tool and assessing the potential of continual advancements in the Geoweb to engage broader public involvement in environmental governance.

Pam Tudge - M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (finished)

I completed my BA Honours at the University of Victoria in as a double major in the School of Environmental Studies and Geography. My undergraduate thesis focused in the area of ethnobotany and ecological restoration where I worked with members of the Songhees Nation to implement eco-cultural restoration activities centered on an important traditional plant food called camas. I returned to graduate school in September 2008 at UBC Okanagan in the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice to investigate the emerging technologies in mapping and again to focus on sustainable food system research. In my MA research, I worked with the North Okanagan Food Action Society and small-scale farmers to identify ways that the geospatial web and associated social networking applications can facilitate communication between farmers, advocates and the local population to address pertinent food security concerns. I recently completed my MA thesis entitled Cultivating Change: Using the geoweb to map the local food system in the North Okanagan of British Columbia. Currently, I am working in the Geography department at McGill University working as a Project Coordinator for the research program Participatory Geoweb for engaging the Public on Global Environmental Change.

Stine Barlindhaug - Archaeologist / PhD-student at Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research.

My current work is a PhD-project focusing on alternative methods of documenting traditional Sámi land use in the wake of current investigations regarding the Sámi peoples collective and individual rights to land in Finnmark. Through a combination of participating mapping, traditional archaeological surveys and GIS it aims at mapping cultural heritage sites, uses of landscape, historical data and environments in a new way. The use of archaeological data and traditional knowledge combined with visualizations on maps can lead to a better understanding of time depth and variation in Sámi land use. Due to lack of experience from Participatory mapping projects in Norway I worked 2009-2010 with Jon Corbett and the Tlowitsis Nation at The Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice at UBCO. 

Zach Romano - M.A. Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan (finished)

I am a Métis with family connections to central Alberta and a registered member of Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC). 

I joined the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice in 2007 as the research coordinator for the BC Métis Land Use Study – a community-university partnership involving MNBC and UBC Okanagan examining the scope and extent of Métis harvesting practices in British Columbia. This work prompted me to pursue a MA (2010) through the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at UBC Okanagan.  In 2008, I was invited to work with the Tlowitsis First Nation on the development, implementation and evaluation of a community-centered research project designed to mobilize members of the Tlowitsis diaspora in the context of treaty negotiations.  Using this project as an empirical case study, my thesis explores the tensions that emerged through the re-engagement of a homeland that is both remembered and imagined among members of this multigenerational dispersed community.


My research interests include community-centered research, diasporic relationships with place and Aboriginal rights and title.  I am specifically interested in the emerging theoretical area of place-focused research and its connection/disconnection to land claims pursued by displaced indigenous communities.