29 August 2016

2016 Trudeau scholar Jesse Thistle, who is Métis-Cree, overcame 10 years living on the streets to become a leading voice on intergenerational trauma. One of York University’s top students, Jesse’s doctoral research draws heavily from his personal background.

Born in a road allowance Métis community in Saskatchewan, Jesse was raised in Toronto by his grandparents who preferred to hide from their cultural history rather than celebrate it. He struggled to understand who he was and eventually found himself living on the streets before addressing his drug addiction at a rehab centre in Ottawa. He has found that reconnecting with his family’s past has been important in his healing process. It was at this point that he decided to begin university studies.

Jesse is currently studying the lives of Métis people living on road allowances – makeshift communities built on Crown land along roads and railways on the Canadian Prairies in the 20th century. He wants to better understand how intergenerational trauma has led so many Indigenous people like himself to crisis situations.

"As a professor I want to teach history, and I want to write books to reach broader audiences, to reframe the way we look at ourselves as Canadians," he said.

To read more, check out The Star article or CBC News article and podcast.

Jesse Thistle

Jesse Thistle (history, York University) is studying the lives of Metis people living on road allowances – makeshift communities built on Crown land along roads and railways on the Canadian Prairies in the 20th century.

2016 Scholars