Heather Howard (PhD Toronto 2005) is a Research Faculty Affiliate with the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Michigan State University. She is the principal investigator for Transforming Diabetes in Urban Aboriginal Toronto, and is a co-investigator and collaborator on several other projects some of which are described below.

Sharing Transformation of Diabetes Prevention and Management for and by Urban Aboriginal Peoples

Canadian Institute of Health Research Logo       Transforming Diabetes Logo

Transforming Diabetes in Urban Aboriginal Toronto is a project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. This project revolves around Aboriginal community capacity building to inform the improvement of chronic illness prevention and care needs of the Aboriginal community in Toronto. In previous research (2010-2011), Dr. Howard led a collaborative research project with the One Nation in Unity Youth Program of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and local Aboriginal diabetes educators to gather the perspectives of Aboriginal persons living with diabetes in Toronto, and of providers of health and social services which impact diabetes prevention and management in this community. The current project has continued Aboriginal youth engagement in the dissemination of perspectives that were gathered during the initial research. Stakeholders themselves identified the need to engage with each other in mutually beneficial activities to develop tools to network, partner, and share in the coordination of their work, with the ultimate purpose of improving the utilization of diabetes prevention and management education and supports for and by Aboriginal people across the city. To meet this need, this project focused on youth leadership and awareness in diabetes prevention education and the development of a web-based tool to facilitate serviced provider communication and distribution of information.


Toronto Native Community History Project: First Story

First Story Logo

Howard has continued work with the Toronto Native Community History Project (TNCHP), which  launched a wildly successful smart-phone app called First Story in fall of 2012. First Story allows users to learn about Toronto from Aboriginal perspectives. Based in large part on the TNCHP’s famously popular bus tour of the city, the map-based app. focuses on history but numerous other layers of information can be integrated into the interactive map. For example, events, Indigenous languages, and Indigenous-themed or produced public art are layers under development for the app. It was launched for android and the iphone version will be available on i-tunes by the end of the summer 2013.

Memory, Meaning-Making and Collections

As part of her work with the TNCHP and with Cara Krmpotich and Lynne Howarth (I-School), Howard is a co-investigator on a recently awarded SSHRC Partnership Development Grant. The project, “Memory, Meaning-Making, and Collections,” for which Krmpotich is the principal investigator, will receive $96 000 to undertake research with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the TNCHP’s material culture collection. Working with NCCT seniors’ program staff, the project will utilize objects from the collection to engage seniors in an effort to encourage the remembering and re-telling of urban Aboriginal experiences, history and heritage, including the experiences of residential schooling. Intergenerational handling and memory sessions further seek to have these experiences move from individual to collective memory. In addition to the SSHRC grant, the project was also successful in securing another $39,000 grant from the Museums Assistance Program (Canadian Heritage), which will be administered by the Native Canadian Centre. This project will run through March 2015.

 Peer-Reviewed Publications by Heather Howard


In Press: Howard, Heather A.“Politics of Culture in Urban Indigenous Community-Based Diabetes Programs,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol.38, no.1.


2013: Howard, Heather A. “Residential School Food Socialization and Urban Indigenous Knowledge Production about Diabetes” Medical Anthropology, Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness.


2013: Howard, Heather A. and Susan Lobo, “Indigenous Peoples’ Rural to Urban Migration within the United States and Canada” Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, New York: Wiley-Blackwell.


2013: Howard, Heather A. “Canadian Residential Schools and Urban Indigenous Knowledge Production about Diabetes” Medical Anthropology, Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2013.828722.


2012: Howard, Heather A. “Northfork Mono Women’s Agricultural Work, “Productive Co-existence,” and Social Well-being in the San Joaquin Valley, California, circa 1850-1950,” Indigenous Women and Work: From Labor to Activism, Carol Williams, ed., University of Illinois Press, pp. 163-178.


2012: Howard, Heather A. “Northfork Mono Women’s Agricultural Work and ‘Productive Co-Existence’ In Indigenous Women and Work: Transnational Perspectives, C. Williams (ed). University of Illinois Press.


2011: Howard, Heather A. Aboriginal Diabetes Research Project Report, with Lynn Lavallee, Anishnawbe Health Toronto


2011: Howard, Heather A. Aboriginal Peoples in Canadian Cities: Transformations and Continuities, with Craig Proulx, Wilfrid Laurier University Press.