Tonya Smith

Post-Doctoral Fellow and Sustainability Scholar, University of British Columbia
Master of Forestry, University of British Columbia; MSc in Forestry (ABD), University of Eastern Finland; BSc in Global Resources Systems, University of British Columbia

My research is about the relationships between human health and forests.

I am currently supporting Li̓l̓wat First Nation community-led research to create the Li̓l̓wat Cultural Re-Connection Classroom. This community-based initiative is a moveable classroom that is a land-based queer-friendly and gender inclusive space. This space is envisioned to be a place where Li̓l̓wat people can come together to engage in topics related to cultural revitalization and land stewardship and take part in traditional medicine harvest and processing and other culturally based activities that promote health and wellness.

This project follows from my dissertation work, which analyzed how forestry governance influences Li̓l̓wat Nation Indigenous food security and sovereignty. I sought to untangle and inspect the many ways that settler-colonial land management continues to constrain Li̓lwatúl livelihoods and relationships with the land. This work was done with the intention of supporting the restoration of land-based health practices led by Indigenous peoples.

The first of my family to attend university, I am passionate about accountability, reciprocity and relationships in qualitative, community-led research. I am also interested in inclusive and accessible approaches to instruction in university courses. I am grateful for the guidance of Dr. Bulkan, the many Li̓l̓wat teachers, friends and labmates who are a part of this research journey.

My previous research includes performing sustainability impact assessments on forestry value chains, assessing provincial government practices regarding scientific integrity, documenting Indigenous knowledge about food and medicinal plants and analyzing Payments for Ecosystem Services programs.

If you are interested in reading any of the articles or presentations I’ve helped prepare, please send me a message at, thank you!

land-based health; Indigenous and local ecological knowledge; forest management; forest governance

Researchgate Profile:
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Awards and Distinctions

Sustainability Education Fellow and Grant Recipient (2023)

President’s Academic Excellence Initiative PhD Award (2020, 2021, 2022)

Namkoong Family Fellowship (Sept 2019 – Aug 2020)

UBC Public Scholar Award (Sept 2018 – May 2019)

Donald McPhee Fellowship (Sept 2018 – May 2019)

Van Dusen Graduate Fellowship in Forestry (Sept 2018 – May 2019)

Mary and David McRee Fellowship (Sept 2018 – May 2019)

UBC Public Scholar Award (Sept 2017 – May 2018)

Mitacs Accelerate Program Awards (April 2017 – Sept 2018)

UBC Faculty of Forestry Strategic Recruitment Fellowship (Sept 2015 – May 2019)

Academic Publications

D’Agincourt-Canning, L., Ziabakhsh, S., Morgan, J., Brass, S., Jolaei, S., Smith, T., Loft, S. and D. Rosalie. Accepted November 2023. Addressing the need for Indigenous-specific PROMs and PREMS: A focus on methodology. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. DOI: 10.1111/jep.13947.

Smith, T. Dan, K. & Bulkan, J. 2023. ‘Loved to Death’: Conflicts between Indigenous food
sovereignty, settler recreation, and ontologies of land in the governance of Li̓l̓wat tmicw. BC Studies: British Columbian Quarterly No 2016: Winter 2022/2023.

Doyle-Yamaguchi, E. & Smith, T. 2022. Listening watchfully: Following the Liìl̓wat pathway towards reciprocal and relational forest research, in Liìl̓wat Indigenous Territory, British Columbia, Canada. Routledge Handbook of Community Forestry, Chapter 18, p 288-301.

Smith T. & Bulkan, J. 2021. A New Relationship? Reflections on British Columbia’s 2003 Forest Revitalization Plan from the Perspective of the Li̓l̓wat First Nation. Land Use Policy, 105, June 2021, 105345. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105345.

Smith, T., J. Bulkan, H. Zerriffi & Tansey, J. 2019. Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and Payments for Ecosystem Services. The Canadian Geographer, 63(4), 616-630. DOI: 10.1111/cag.12553.

Community Publications

Líl̓wat Nation. Under Community Review. Líl̓wat Medicine Recipe Book. Ed. Smith, T., 106 pp.

Líl̓wat Nation. 2017. Líl̓wat Botanical Resources: Gifts from the Earth. Ed. Smith, T. 407 pp. ISBN: 978-1-77136-520-8.

Smith, T., Gibbs, K. Westwood, A., Taylor, S. & Walsh, K. 2017. Oversight at risk: the state of government science in British Columbia. An assessment of research capacity, communication and independence in British Columbia provincial ministries and departments. Evidence for Democracy

Smith, T. 2017. Cheaper home heating with waste residues from the Cheakamus Community Forest. Branchlines, 27(3), 20.

Smith, T. & Marinescu, M. 2016. Sustainability impact assessment of heat generation from logging residues at the Cheakamus Community Forest, B.C. Prepared for the Cheakamus Community Forest Board of Directors, 16 pp.

Líl̓wat Nation. 2015. Líl̓wat Nation Botanical Resources Strategy. Prepared by: Smith, T., Líl̓wat Lands and Resources Department and the Líl̓wat Culture, Heritage and Language Authority: 270 pp.

Smith, T. 2015. Protecting the Líl̓wat Nation’s botanical resources: Gifts from the earth. Branchlines, 26(4), 20.

Smith, T. 2013. Cork production and forest certification in Portugal: a ToSIA case study. European Forest Institute Report. Prepared for the Operational Potential of Ecosystem Research Applications Program, 37 pp.

Conference, Media and Professional Presentations

UBC Forestry. Protecting Li̓l̓wat Food Sovereignty: Navigating conflicting approaches to stewarding land. UBC Forestry News, January 16, 2024:

Smith, T., Slodki, M., Nelson, M., K. Peters. 2023. Li̓l̓wat Nation Indigenous Food Sovereignty Research. Poster presentation at the BC Community Forestry Association Annual General Meeting, Kamloops BC, June 7-9, 2023.

Smith, T. 2022. Just Transition: Indigenous Allyship. Global Community Storytelling Night VIDEA, February 2, 2022: Victoria, Canada.

Smith, T. 2022. What is Indigenous Food Sovereignty? TimberConnect Podcast, February 20, 2022. Available online:

Smith, T. 2021. Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and Payments for Ecosystem Services. American Agricultural Law Association Conference, November 6, 2021. Salt Lake City, United States.

Smith, T. 2021. Li̓l̓wat Nation Forestry and Forest Values. Invited Lecture for CONS 370 at the Faculty of Forestry, UBC, February 17, 2021.

Loft, S. & Smith, T. 2021. A Roadmap for developing patient-reported experience and outcome measures (PROMs/PREMs). Presented at the Indigenous Graduate Student Symposium. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. March 6, 2021.

Smith, T. & Ogura, S. 2019. Community relationships building day. Facilitator and Master of Ceremonies. Transforming approaches to forests and forestry through Traditional and Local Knowledges. Conference hosted by International Union of Forest Research Organization (IUFRO) and UBC Faculty of Forestry. University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, August 21-23, 2019.

Smith, T. 2019. Sharing the Lessons of Líl̓wat Nlep̓cálten (Community Garden). Presentation at Canadian Association for Food Studies Conference. University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, June 3, 2019.

Smith, T., Peters, K. & Koskas. 2019. Nt̓akmen (Our Way) at nlep̓cálten (Garden). Presentation at Society of Ethnobiology Conference. University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, May 9, 2019.

Smith, T. 2017. Oversight at risk: the state of government science in BC. [Webinar] Presentation to the BC Professional Employees Association on behalf of Evidence for Democracy, April 7th and 11th, 2017.

Smith, T. 2016. Community Forestry in British Columbia. Invited Lecture for FRST 270 at the Faculty of Forestry, UBC, October 17, 2016.

Smith, T. 2016. Poster Presentation: Creating the Líl̓wat Botanical Resources Strategy. Presented at: Ethics and Pragmatism in Indigenous Research. Workshop at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, February 22-24, 2016.

Smith, T. 2015. Community Forestry in British Columbia. Invited Lecture for FRST 270 at the Faculty of Forestry, UBC, October 26, 2015.