AshliAkins2018_004_TrentFreeman.jpeg

ABOUT ME

"(S)he who has a why to live

can bear almost any how."

Viktor Frankl

Photo by Trent Freeman

I am a Canadian scholar, writer, photographer, and social entrepreneur based in the Andean mountains of Peru. I specialize in sustainable development and sociocultural resilience in an era of rapid economic change.

 

I am honoured to study, work, and live on Quechua lands in the Andean mountains and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) traditional, unceded, ancestral territory, and to collaborate with extraordinarily resilient artists and women who are collectively working to keep their cultures alive in the face of climate change, economic shifts, and globalization. I am the descendent of a long line of artists who immigrated to North America from Sweden, Ireland, and Germany, including Great-Grandma Jackson (weaver), my great-uncles the Grimm Brothers (writers), and my parents, Brent and Marka (musicians and fibre artists).

I am a National Geographic Explorer and PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia, co-supervised by former National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Wade Davis (Dept. of Anthropology) and Dr. Kai Chan (Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability; Public Policy & Global Affairs). My working title for my doctoral thesis is "Museumification & Monetization: Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in an era of rapid economic change."

When I was 21, I founded Mosqoy, a charitable organization that works with highland Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes. Mosqoy aims to mitigate the adverse effects of unsustainable tourism and development by providing economic opportunities that nurture their threatened indigenous culture. Mosqoy is now over 14 years old and is a strong force for marginalized youth and weavers in the Cusco region. For its first decade, I acted as Mosqoy’s Executive Director, and now advise the charity’s operations as President of its Board of Directors.
 

And, in my not-so-spare time, I play the fiddle, rock-climb, dance, and get lost in the mountains. One of my most epic (or ridiculous) adventures took me over the last Andean mountain into the cloud forest of the Amazon jungle for 12 days, with little more than a machete, a compass, and the only map I could find - from 1964. 

EDUCATION

University of British Columbia, PhD (Candidate)

Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program

Liu Institute for Global Issues

University of Oxford, MSt (2014)

International Human Rights Law           

University of Victoria, BA (2009)

Latin American multidisciplinary studies

Environmental studies

Professional writing (journalism & publishing)

HONOURS

National Geographic Explorer

National Geographic Society

2019 - 2020

A. Vibert Douglas Fellowship

Canadian Federation of University Women

2019 - 2020

Emerging Humanist of the Year

Department of Humanities

University of Victoria

2019

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council

2015 - 2018

Top 50 Alumni in History who have Made a Difference

University of Victoria

2013

Las Casas Human Rights Scholarship

Blackfriars Hall

University of Oxford

2010 - 2012

École Polytechnique Commemorative Award

Canadian Federation of University Women

2011