Meet Lauren Kepkiewicz, new Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at UM
We caught up with her during this busy time before she takes up her Banting Fellowship in fall 2021, to learn more about her and her research. She will be working with Dr. Annette Desmarais, Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Social Justice and Food Sovereignty.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your area of research.
Originally from small-town Ontario, I’m a community-based researcher who currently lives in small-town Exshaw, Alberta. My postdoctoral research examines food sovereignty in the mountain communities where I live, with a focus on the Bow Valley. I use food as a lens to understand how people and places relate to one another, including the ways that different communities build alliances across difference, challenge structures of oppression and work to create transformative food system change.
What attracted you to the UM as a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow?
I’ve been inspired by Dr. Desmarais’ work since I was a graduate student. Over the years our research paths kept intersecting and the Banting Fellowship felt like a fabulous opportunity to work together. In addition to accomplished faculty members, I was attracted to UM because of the many amazing graduate students doing social justice and food sovereignty-related work.
What do you hope to achieve with your research program?
My aim is to develop relevant research alongside my community partner, the Bow Valley Food Alliance, that will support communities in the Bow Valley to become more socially and ecologically just. Through this research, I want to provide a better understanding of what food sovereignty looks like (and might look like) in places like the Valley and beyond – both in theory and in practice. In doing so, I place equal importance on sharing these understandings and learnings with my community partner, the broader Bow Valley community, interested grassroots activists and academia.
Through this research, I want to provide a better understanding of what food sovereignty looks like (and might look like) in places like the Valley and beyond – both in theory and in practice.
What (or who) inspires you?
I’m continually inspired by grassroots activists and organizers on the front lines of decolonization and anti-oppression work – groups like Justicia for Migrant Workers, Black Lives Matter and the Unist’ot’en. I’m also greatly inspired by the many local groups and individuals doing food work in the Bow Valley such as the Filipino Organization of the Rocky Mountains, the Canmore Filipino Canadian Society and EthioCare.