Position Description

Graduate Research Assistant, Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge
Job Code 1877
Department Research Labs & Projects
Employment Type Temporary/Contract
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Project Details:

The Virtual Platform for Indigenous Art (VPIA) is an Indigenous-led strategy to develop a digital collections database and an immersive curatorial space for Indigenous artists, scholars, and students. Led by Dr, Gerald McMaster as part of the larger The Entangled Gaze project at OCAD University’s Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge, the platform is designed to compile, and provide access to, diverse museum collections of historical and contemporary Indigenous artworks featuring representations of non-Indigenous people and cultural heritage. These artworks offer valuable perspectives and insight into processes of colonization, cultural contact, and Indigenous philosophy, aesthetic, and research methodology. Vital information on artworks from more than 40 institutions and museums around the world have been collected and are in the process of being digitally organized, edited, and databased for inclusion in the VPIA. The database’s design is founded on Indigenous protocols developed to empower communities and stakeholders to own and regain control over levels of shared information.

We are seeking for a Graduate Research Assistant (RA) to assist Wapatah Centre staff with the digitization and databasing of collections records. Working alongside the database team, the Graduate RA will apply a high level of detail to advance the creation and completion of work that will help form the foundation of the VPIA. The RA will assist in data entry and the sourcing of additional records, images, and licenses relating to Indigenous artworks. As the VPIA is a work-in-progress, we are seeking candidates who can bring critical and creative insight to the project to assist with technical troubleshooting and shaping the database to best meet the Indigenous protocols outlined for it. Preference will be given to Indigenous applicants with lived experience, a strong commitment to Indigenous knowledges, and who have experience in collaborating with Indigenous organizations and/or communities



  • Working under the supervision of the Principal Investigator, Dr. Gerald McMaster, in support of the project’s research goals and objectives
  • Compiling information relating to Indigenous objects and collections and associated records data from source documents
  • Gathering web-based content relating to Indigenous collections images, copyright, and licensing 
  • Sourcing object images and records from on-line museum databases and email communication with museum staff
  • Data entry and accuracy verification on digital spreadsheets
  • Reviewing existing and new data for deficiencies or errors, and correcting information wherever necessary
  • Attending planning or project-specific meetings as required
  • Interacting regularly with database designers, lab staff, and/or other partners



  • Completion of a relevant graduate degree or current enrollment in a relevant graduate program and/or equivalent training and professional experience
  • Knowledge of Indigenous cultures, collections, and research methodology is an asset
  • Demonstrated creativity in developing new ideas, with an interest in working with concepts of Indigenous database design and visualization
  • Demonstrated organizational, time management, and communication skills.
  • Excellent reading and writing skills with attention to detail
  • Ability to take initiative to complete tasks and develop solutions
  • Experience with data entry
  • Ability to self-teach new software, ideas, and concepts, as required for the project
  • Demonstrated commitment to the principles of equity and diversity and experience promoting a respectful work and learning environment for students, staff and faculty


Hours of Work: 10 hours per week over the period of September 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

Work Environment:

Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge. 311-205 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario. Please note, this work may be expected to be carried out in a remote environment.

Compensation: $31.05 per hour subject to qualifications, plus 6% in lieu of benefits plus vacation pay, as applicable, per the provisions of the Employment Standards Act.


Please note the following:

  • This appointment is conditional upon funding of the Project by OCAD U’s external funding partner(s)
  • Full-time graduate students may not accept research assistantships or other university-related employment in excess of 10 hours per week (or 130 hours per semester), as mandated by the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies (OCGS).

Application Process:  

Applications should include: a one-page covering letter explaining the candidate’s interest, a curriculum vitae, and contact information for three (3) referees

Interested applicants are invited to submit their application in confidence addressed to Dr. Gerald McMaster, Tenured Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies online by clicking the “Apply Now” button below.

The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position has been filled.


As an employer committed to employment equity, we encourage applications from members of equity-seeking communities including women, racialized and Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, and persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions.

We encourage members of designated equity-seeking groups to self-identify within the voluntary Applicant Questionnaire.

OCAD U is committed to providing an inclusive and barrier free experience to applicants with accessibility needs. Requests for accommodation can be made at any stage during the recruitment process. Please contact Human Resources for more information or refer to OCAD U’s Policy of Accommodation in Employment for Persons with Disabilities

All qualified persons are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority. While we thank all candidates for their interest, only those short-listed will be contacted.

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