Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn


Doctor of Philosophy - Educational Psychology

Simon Fraser University

Master of Arts - Educational Psychology

Simon Fraser University

Bachelor of Arts - Psychology

Simon Fraser University

Certificate for Overseas Teachers of English

Cambridge University

Contact information


Main Campus : EDT620

Research and Scholarly Activity

Research areas

  • Aboriginal counselling
  • Aboriginal education
  • Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal Relations in Canada
  • Child and youth mental health
  • Collaborative research methods
  • Colonialism and Eurocentrism
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Internationalisation, global contexts, and diversity
  • Qualitative research
  • Relational epistemologies
  • Sociocultural theory
  • Social justice pedagogy and research
  • Communal ethics
  • Communal selfhood
  • Community engagement
  • Community-led research
  • Conceptions of selfhood
  • Decolonization of mental health
  • Interdisciplinary studies on child and family wellbeing
  • Theoretical and philosophical psychology


Dr. Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn’s research focuses on philosophical and theoretical ideas about the self; how these are interpreted and translated into social institutional practices, beliefs, and legislation and the social implications associated with them. She critiques individualistic approaches in favour of more communal perspectives of selfhood in learning, teaching, and research, particularly for education, counselling psychology, and child welfare. This ontological work is closely related with issues of relational and situated epistemologies, community-led, based, and participatory methodologies, and communal axiological principles in the social sciences. 

Through this communal lens, Elisa has worked with Indigenous knowledge, science, and ways of being in western Canada and Brazil. She is involved in several national and international research projects on decolonization of mental health and education, settler-ally sensibilities, and Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations.  

Current Projects:

  • Walking together: A mini-documentary of an Indigenous-Non-Indigenous community-engaged research partnership to return children in care home (Werklund School of Education Community Engage Grant)- Principal Investigator.
  • Indigenous teacher education programs: An international and Indigenous intercultural engagement project between Canada and Brazil (University of Calgary Univerity Research Grant Committee) – Principal Investigator- with University Federal do Ceará- Sobral, Brazil.
  • Relational pedagogies for engaging students in online Indigenous education (University of Calgary Taylor Institute of Teaching and Learning Development and Innovation Grant)

Professional & Community Affiliations

  • Member of the International Advisory Committee - Office of Internalization. Werklund School of Education. 
  • Member of the Collective Wellbeing Advisory Committee. Werklund School of Education. 
  • Member of the International Advisory Committee - Office of Internalization. Werklund School of Education. 
  • Member of the Undergraduate Programs in Education Scholarship Committee. Werklund School of Education.
  • Member of the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology- Division 24 - American Psychological Association.
  • Member of the International Society for Dialogical Science (ISDS). 
  • Member of the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Member of the Indigenous Research Institute (IRI) - Simon Fraser University


Dr. Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn was born and grew up in Curitiba, Brazil and made Canada home in 2004. At Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, BC), she completed a BA in Psychology (2009), an MA in Educational Psychology (2014), and a PhD in Educational Psychology (2020). She has vast research project management experience, having worked in different disciplines and universities on a variety of local, pan-university, and international projects, and Indigenous community-led and based educational and child welfare programs in western Canada and Brazil. In July 2018, she joined the Werklund School of Education, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses. 


  • Lacerda-Vandenborn, E., Markides, J., Fowler, T.; Hanson, A., MacDonald, J., Poitras Pratt, Y., Danyluk, P. (In press). Learning behind the screen: Adapting a mandatory Indigenous Education course to an online environment. In Woodley, X. & Rice, M. (Eds.), Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning Online through Theory, with Design and by Practice. Routledge Press.
  • Lacerda-Vandenborn (2020). The meeting of the selves. In Charlton, J. (Ed.) Decolonizing Mental Health: Embracing Indigenous Multi-Dimensional Balance (pp. 190-202). Charlton Publishing.
  • Lacerda-Vandenborn, E. (September, 2020). Apoema: Exploring a communally constituted conception of selfhood approach to child welfare through an Indigenous Family Group Conferencing program (Publication No. etd21045). [Doctoral dissertation, Simon Fraser University]. Summit Institutional Repository. 
  • Lacerda-Vandenborn, E. (accepted). The Communal Self: Starting decolonization with the self. In Strong, T. & Mudry, T. (Eds.), Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health: Narratives of Aetiology and Recovery.
  • Hart, M. A., Lacerda-Vandenborn, E. & Robinson, D. (2020). An Indigenist based evaluation of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata’s Family Group Conferencing Program. Retrieved from **document to be made available on the organization’s website: https://www.mamawi.com/family-group-conferencing/


  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Talent Award (2016-2018)
  • Simon Fraser University Graduate Fellowship Award (2014)
  • Douglas College 10th Annual Awards (2007)
  • Douglas College University Transfer Program Award (2006)
  • Douglas College Erm Fiorillo - Hal Davis CKNW Award (2006)

Media Work

Zapata, K. (2020, February). Decolonizing mental health: The importance of an oppression-focused mental health system. Calgary Journal, pp. Page(s). Retrieved from https://calgaryjournal.ca/more/calgaryvoices/4982-decolonizing-mental-health-the-importance-of-an-oppression-focused-mental-health-system.html