About Me

Photo by Maki Fotos

Holly McKenzie, PhD

I am a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Sociology. My community-engaged research program addresses two areas white-settler society continues to push to the margins: 1) human-animal relations and 2) reproductive and sexual justice, with particular attention to Indigenous peoples’ perspectives and experiences.

Structural inequities have contributed to high rates of substance use and mental health concerns among people in Canada, concerns highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, therapy dog visiting has increasingly been offered as a complementary support to existing mental health, addiction and harm-reduction services. My current project “Fostering PAWSitive wellbeing and support: A qualitative study with therapy dog-handler teams and service providers” examines how to enhance training and policies for St. John Ambulance therapy dog-handler teams visiting with people with mental health and/or substance use concerns. I also explore handlers’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more about this project.

During my PhD studies, I conducted a CIHR-funded study with urban Indigenous women living on the homeland of the Métis and Treaty One (Winnipeg), Treaty Four (Regina) and Treaty Six (Saskatoon) territories, which explored: 1) how Indigenous women define reproductive justice, and 2) their reproductive experiences. Much of the existing research about Indigenous women’s reproduction uses deficit-based approaches. This study applied a strength-based framework, reproductive justice, developed by women of colour and Indigenous women in North America. This study highlighted that self-determination is central to Indigenous women’s reproductive and sexual justice, which collaborators articulated as intergenerational and relational. Click here to learn more about this project.

I am a white-settler who grew up on my family farm on the homeland of the Métis and Treaty Four territory. I now live in Saskatoon with my spouse and our Great Dane, Opal. Together, we enjoy dog sports and camping. I am a member of the Saskatoon Kennel and Obedience Club and Secretary of the Great Dane Club of Canada-Midwest Division.

 I like what Suzanne Clothier says, that “the dog not only notices what you do, but he believes what you do to be an accurate reflection of the relationship between you.”* Indeed, Opal doesn’t care about what I know about human-animal relations in my head, she only cares about my actions now and in similar situations in the past. She teaches me to consciously incorporate what I learn into how I act, to be present, and to be responsive to her as a sentient being. These are important lessons for all my relationships. – Dr. Holly McKenzie

*Clothier, S. (2002). Bones would rain from the sky: Deepening our relationships with dogs. New York: Warner Books, p. 49

Photo by Yvonne Dyck

If you are interested in learning more about me scroll down to find information on my Education as well as selections of my Academic Publications, Academic Conference Presentations and my Community Presentations and Products.


  • PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC
  • MA in Canadian Plains Studies (Interdisciplinary), University of Regina, Regina SK
  • BA (Hons) in Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Regina, Regina SK
  • BHS, University of Regina, Regina SK 

Selected Publications

Dell, C., Williamson, L., McKenzie, H., Carey, B., Cruz, M, Gibson, M. & Pavelich, A. (2021) A Commentary about lessons learned: Transitioning a therapy dog program online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Animals 11, 914. DOI: 0.3390/ani11030914

McKenzie, H.A. (2020) Indigenous women’s reproductive (in)justice(s) and self-determination: Envisioning futures through a collaborative research project (Doctoral dissertation). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia.

Varcoe, C., Ford Gilboe, M., Browne, A. J., Perrin, N., Bungay, V., McKenzie, H. A ., Smye, V., Price, R., Inyallie, J., Khan, K. and Dion Stout, M. (2019). The Efficacy of a Health Promotion Intervention for Indigenous Women: Reclaiming Our Spirits. Journal of Interpersonal Violence doi: 10.1177/0886260518820818.

McKenzie, H. A., Varcoe, C., Browne, A. J. Ford-Gilboe, M., Dion-Stout, M., Price, R., Day, L. & Inyallie, J. (2018).  Context Matters: Promoting Inclusion With Indigenous Women. In F. Klodawsky, J. Siltanen, and C. Andrew Seeking Equity and Inclusion: Canadian Urban Encounters (pp. 83-110). Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s

Varcoe, C., Browne, A., Ford-Gilboe, M., Dion-Stout, M, McKenzie, H., Price, R., Bungay, V., Smye, V., Inyallie, J., Khan, K., Day, L., Heino, A. & Merritt-Gray, M. (2017) Reclaiming Our Spirits: Development and Pilot Testing of a Health Promotion Intervention for Indigenous Women Who Have Experienced Intimate Partner Violence. Research in Nursing and Health 40(3):237-254. doi: 10.1002/nur.21795

McKenzie, H. A., Varcoe, C., Browne, A. J., Day, L. (2016) Disrupting the Continuities Among Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, and Child Welfare Today: An Analysis of Colonial and Neocolonial Discourses. The International Indigenous Policy Journal 7(2) Article 4. doi: 10.18584/iipj.2016.7.2.4

McKenzie, H., Dell, C.A., Fornssler, B. (2016). Understanding Addictions Among Indigenous People Through Social Determinants of Health Frameworks and Strength-Based Approaches: A Review of the Research Literature from 2013 to 2016. Current Addiction Reports 3 (4):378-386. doi: 10.1007/s40429-016-0116-9.

Fornssler, B., McKenzie, H. A., Dell, C. A., Laliberte, L., Hopkins, C. (2014) ‘I Got to Know Them in a New Way’: Rela(y/t)ing Rhizomes and Community-based Knowledge (Brokers’) Transformation of Western and Indigenous Knowledge. Cultural Studies and Critical Methodologies 14(2): 179-193. Doi: 10.1177/1532708613516428

Selected Academic Conference Presentations

Title: Indigenous women asserting reproductive sovereignty in the context of continuing colonial violence.

Date: June 2017

Conference: Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Annual Meeting

Co-authors: Hoskins, J., Arkles Schwandt, J., McKenna, B., Opikokew Wajuntah, C. & Banhegy, M.

Title: Co-generating knowledge with urban Indigenous women and allies to foster reproductive justice: Reflecting on collaborative action-based processes.

Date: November 2016

Conference: National Women’s Studies Association Meeting

Co-author: Arkles Schwandt, J.

Title: Solidarity not appropriation: How non-Indigenous healthcare providers and organizations can support Indigenous women’s reproductive justice and sovereignty (Shared workshop)

Date: November 2014

Conference: Indigenous Health Conference

Title: What one mestizaje project looked like: Understanding Daleen Kay Bosse (Muskego) (Cree) and Amber Tara-Lynn Redman’s (Dakota-Sioux) disappearances and murders through media re-presentations and family members’ narratives. (Invited talk)

Date: October 2013

Conference: International Institute for Qualitative Methodology Qualitative Health Research Conference

Selected Community Presentations and Products

Title: Reproductive Justice and Sovereignty as defined by urban Indigenous women: A Collaborative Action-Oriented Project

Community Report and Presentation for full study.

Date: December 2020

Co-authors: McKenna, B., Varcoe, C., Nason, D., Kelm, M. E., Acoose, S., Arkles Schwandt, J., Anaquod, J., Brown, M., Brockman, J., Delorme, C., Gervais, L., Hoskins, J., Herney, J., McArthur, J., McGillivary, D., Mike, M., Morningsong Butterfly Woman, Murdock, J., Murdock, R., Opikokew Wajuntah, C., Poitras, P., Sanderson-Taniskishayinew, A., Quewezance, L., Shorting, M., Smith, C., Smith, K., Swiftwolfe, S., Tatanka Ska Win, Wanotch, T. L., Young, M.

Title: Rebuilding relations: Centering Indigenous women’s self-determination in reproductive justice work.

Invited Keynote at Ka Ni Kanichihk & Sexuality Education Resource Centre’s event: Honouring relationships: Reproductive justice & reconciliation

Date: April 2017

Title: Reproductive Justice and Sovereignty as defined by urban Indigenous women: A Collaborative, Action-Based Project.

Community Report and Presentations for Phase 1 of study

Date: November 2016

Co-authors: Varcoe, C., Nason, D., Kelm, M., McKenna, B., Acoose, S., Anaquod, J. Brown, M., Gervais, L., Hoskins, J., McGillivary, D., Quewezance, L., Schwandt, J. A., Smith, C., Wanotch, T.

Title: Issue: Royal University Hospital Employees coercing and forcing Indigenous women to have tubal ligations.

Policy briefing note submitted to representatives at the Saskatoon Health Region and Governments of Saskatchewan and Canada

Date: September 26, 2016

Co-authors: M.R.L.P., Arkles Schwandt, J., Olsen Lawford, K. & Varcoe, C.

Title: The different stories of Cree woman, Daleen Kay Bosse (Muskego), and Dakota-Sioux woman, Amber Tara-Lynn Redman: Media coverage and family members’ narratives.

Summary report of MA project

Date: September 2013

Title: Join the Conversation! Joignez-vous à la discussion! Ne àwok làgà! Pi-Kakeekiton! Pe-mamiskota kista! Ne àwok nàgà! Nuhÿhel yanÿåti horîåæîh dé, nÿba hoæâ si t’óho lósí!

DVD, Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet sharing people’s lived experiences of Indigenous culture in healing from addictions (co-author).

Date : 2012

Co-authors : Brockman, J., Campbell, E., Dell, C. A., Fornssler, B., Hopkins, C., Laliberte, L., Mykota, D., Papequash, C., Ross, C., Swampy, S. & Walker, T.

Peer-reviewed by and access at: CES4Health.info

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