Acclaimed Indigenous activist and TRU student adds published researcher to resume

Nikki Fraser’s research article Trust Your Journey examines Indigenous interconnectedness through her personal experiences

Nikki Fraser continues to juggle her post-secondary studies at TRU while making incredible strides in Indigenous policy reform. (Submitted)

TRU student and Indigenous rights activist, Nikki Fraser is celebrating the publication of her research article; adding “Published Researcher” to her growing list of accolades.

In late 2020, Fraser published her research article, Trust Your Journey: Discovering the Interconnectedness of the Path We Walk. Trust Your Journey details Fraser’s accomplished history as an Indigenous rights advocate, using her life’s story to postulate deep interconnectedness between Indigenous nations and communities worldwide. 

The article was published in the Knowledge Makers Journal, a peer-reviewed Indigenous undergraduate research journal based out of TRU. 

“[Writing the article] really helped me want to continue more in research and learning. Especially when it comes to Indigenous research,” Fraser said. 

Much of the article is focused on the second-year sociology major’s advocacy work for Indigenous causes. Fraser first became involved with advocacy when she was elected youth Representative of the BC Native Women’s Association in 2015. A year later, she was elected national youth representative for the Native Women’s Association of Canada. In those roles, she engaged with Indigenous policy on a national level and represented Indigenous youth perspectives when in contact with political decision-makers. 

“I felt like a lot of times our youth conditions are kind of tokenized,” Fraser said. “I tried to contribute to real change.” 

Soon after, Fraser became involved with Indigenous issues in varying capacities for the UN. She was first invited to attend a UN Forum on Indigenous issues as a Youth Representative with the Native Women’s Association of Canada. In 2016, Fraser was named a UN young leader for sustainable development goals. She has since had the opportunity to attend and speak at numerous UN events. 

Fraser also received the opportunity to interview Justin Trudeau in 2015. 

“[In the interview], I had the opportunity to shine some light on some of the issues in regards to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls…I also brought up the systemic racism within the police department. We can’t just address why they’re going missing. We also have to address all these systems that are allowing them to fall through the cracks,” Fraser said. 

Fraser’s family has close ties to the missing and murdered Indigenous women’s human-rights crisis. Fraser’s aunt, Dorothy Spence, and her aunt, Samantha Paul, both went missing. 

Spence is still missing. Paul has since been found dead. No charges have been laid in the cases of either woman. 

“I want to make sure their stories and their voices are heard, and they’re not forgotten,” Fraser said. “They had lives. They were human beings in this world. [Their disappearance] paved my purpose in life.” 

For her activism, Fraser has received widespread recognition. In 2017, she was named one of GreenBiz’s 30 Under 30. The same year, she was named one of CBC’s Young Indigenous Women on the rise, and in 2018, she was named of the country’s top 10 Indigenous influencers by the Government of Canada. 

Despite her success and acclaim, Fraser was nervous about enrolling in post-secondary school. She dropped out of high school in grade 10, never receiving a diploma. 

“I thought I wasn’t a good student,” Fraser said. “I was constantly hearing the stereotypes of [Indigenous students] dropping out. I thought, ‘How am I going to be that one person who makes it in the world?’ It becomes your reality.” 

Eventually, Fraser applied and was accepted into TRU through the mature student program. In 2018 she enrolled in the B.A. of sociology and political science program at TRU. She has worked as a research assistant for the majority of her time at the university. 

In her second year, she pitched her research article, Trust Your Journey, to the Knowledge Makers Journal. 

“I didn’t think I was going to get picked,” Fraser said. “I didn’t know if I could do it.”

Fraser was selected, and she turned in her article in early 2020. It was published in Volume Five of the Knowledge Makers Journal in December of 2020. 

“Getting the hardcopy was surreal,” Fraser said. “I was so proud that I did it.” 

In the future, Fraser wants to continue advocating for Indigenous causes and ensure that Indigenous voices are heard. She plans on applying for law school. 

“I want to know how the law works so that I can make policy changes and frame policy for Indigenous people. I want to work on supporting Indigenous government.”

More information about Fraser can be found on her website. Her research article can be found on the TRU Knowledge Makers website.