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Dissertation Defence: Leadership from a Syilx Perspective rooted in captikʷɬ

May 10 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Aaron Derrickson will defend their dissertation.

Aaron Derrickson, supervised by Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, will defend their dissertation titled “Leadership from a Syilx Perspective rooted in captikʷɬ” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies – Indigenous Studies theme.

An abstract for Aaron Derrickson’s dissertation is included below.

Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person exams.


This thesis seeks to understand Syilx leadership through traditional stories (captikʷɬ) and Nsyilxcen. Syilx concepts of leadership are explored through four captikʷɬ: How Coyote Got His Name and Powers; Coyote, Horse, and Dog; Coyote, Porcupine, and the Flies; and The Four Food Chiefs. I discuss power, story, and Syilx leadership and the intersections therein through an analysis of these captikʷɬ in conjunction with the wider academic literature on leadership. . The three captikʷɬ are mechanisms for changing anti-social behaviors, while The Four Food Chiefs activates pro-social behaviors.

The methodology research paradigm is what I call, Enowkinwixw Research Paradigm (ERP). The ERP follows Enowkinwixw theory and methodology that are inherently Syilx. I juxtapose these tools with other existing scholarly approaches as a means of demonstrating the contemporary utility of an Indigenous Syilx paradigm for leadership.
Leadership in this research comes from a Syilx perspective and is defined through two distinct aspects. Firstly, through the captikʷɬ – leadership is care for land, the people, and all living things. Secondly, through the Nsyilxcen language- the word for leader, Yilmixʷm, defines an imperative for the leader as someone who continuously brings together the various strands of community.

Traditional Syilx leadership, as learners of captikʷɬ, were empathetic in that the captikʷɬ established the means for that empathy. Empathy, or the ability to read into how our actions affect the emotional state of others, was mobilized in Syilx leadership through Enowkinwixw, a complex concept that originates in the The Four Food Chiefs.
Findings in the literature, show that power is a resource present in human interactions, and is especially relevant to leadership. In the Syilx worldview, power is shared within various leadership functions (i.e. The Four Food Chiefs), is represented in community. The foreign introduction of power presented a colonial interruption that forced a transformation of Syilx leadership into structures that were foreign to Syilx thought. Using The Four Food Chiefs as a base point, I show the power sharing methods inherent to Enowkinwixw. The re-institutionalization of these practices in contemporary leadership literately provides the basis for continuously being Syilx.


May 10
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Arts Building (ART)
1147 Research Road
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Culture and Diversity, Indigenous, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates