About Me

Photo by Maki Fotos

Holly McKenzie (she/her)

I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with the project “Sanctum 1.5’s Hope through Strength: A Novel, Women-Directed and Community-Based Approach to Wholistic Care for Mother-Infant Pairs Experiencing a Substance Use Disorder and/or HIV” in the pewaseskwan (Cree for “the sky is starting to clear”) Indigenous Research Wellness Group at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine. I am working with the “Hope Through Strength” team to adapt and apply a Social Return on Investment framework for Sanctum 1.5’s context through Indigenous and etuaptmumk (Two-eyed Seeing) approaches. In early 2022, I completed a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship 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 recent project “Fostering PAWSitive wellbeing and support: A qualitative study with therapy dog-handler teams and service providers” examined 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 and my Community and Public Scholarship.


  • 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 (Bachelor of Health Studies), University of Regina, Regina SK

Selected Academic Publications

McKenzie, H. A., Varcoe, C. Nason, D., McKenna, B., Lawford, K., Kelm, M.E., Wajuntah, C.O., Gervais, L., Hoskins, J., Anaquod, J., Murdock, J., Murdock, R., Smith, K., Arkles, J., Acoose, S. & Arisman, K. (2022) Indigenous Women’s Resistance of Colonial Policies, Practices and Reproductive Coercion. Qualitative Health Research 6 Apr 2022. Sage Journals. 1-24. https://doi.org/10.1177/10497323221087526

McKenzie, H. A. (2022) Reproductive Politics: Reproductive Choice to Reproductive Justice. In M. Morrow, O. Hankivsky, & C. Varcoe (Ed.) Women’s Health in Canada: Challenges of Intersectionality (2nd Edition). University of Toronto Press.

Varcoe, C. & McKenzie, H. A. (2022) Decolonizing Research. In M. Morrow, O. Hankivsky, & C. Varcoe (Ed.) Women’s Health in Canada: Challenges of Intersectionality (2nd Edition). University of Toronto Press.

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., 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.

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): 378-386doi: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 Community and Public Scholarship


Social assistance cuts are contributing to high rates of HIV, syphilis in Saskatchewan. w/Cattapan, A. The Conversation

Responding to Indigenous Women’s Stories of Reproductive Coercion. Impact Ethics: Making a Difference in Bioethics. w/Varcoe, C., Nason, D., McKenna, B., Lawford, K., Kelm, M.-E., Opikokew Wajuntah, C., Gervais, L., Hoskins, J., Anaquod, J., Murdock, J., Murdock, R., Smith, K., Arkles, J., Acoose, S., & Arisman, K.

How Therapy Dogs are Helping to Reduce Needle Fear at COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. w/ Dell, C. A., Gibson, M., Carey, B., Peachey, S., Williamson, L. & Chalmers, D. Canadian Nurse

The Human-Human Connection Among Therapy Dog Handlers During the COVID-19 Pandemic. w/Arisman, K., Dell, C., & Smith, J. Poster.

Fostering PAWSitive Wellbeing and Support: A Qualitative Study With Therapy Dog-Handler Teams and Service Providers, Community Presentation, Virtual. Chimo Animal Assisted Wellness and Learning Society.


Cultural Conversation: Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Justice and Reconciliation w/McKenna, B., Anaquod, J. & Hoskins, J., First Nations & Métis Relations, Saskatchewan Health Authority.


Reproductive Justice and Sovereignty as Defined by Urban Indigenous Women: A Collaborative, Action-Oriented Project w/McKenna, B, Anaquod, J., Banhegy, M., Hoskins, J. & McArthur, J., Community Presentation, Virtual.

Opal My Teacher: How Lessons I Learned From My Dog Inform My Research Practice, Multi-Species Dementia Network.


Rebuilding Relations: Centering Indigenous Women’s Self-Determination in Reproductive Justice Work, Honouring Relationships: Reproductive Justice & Reconciliation, Sexuality Education Resource Centre & Ka Ni Kanichihk, Winnipeg MB.


Issue: Royal University Hospital Employees coercing and forcing Indigenous women to have tubal ligations. w/M.R.L.P., Schwandt, J. A., Lawford, K. O. & Varcoe, C., Policy Briefing Note.


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! Community-Engaged Scholarship For Health w/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.

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