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Panel 216 - Incorporating indigenous ways of knowing into applied research

Conference Day: 
Day 1 - November 7th 2018
Takeaways and recommendations: 

Incorporating indigenous ways of knowing into applied research

Organized by: Colleges and Institutes Canada, Anna Toneguzzo

Speakers: Bronwyn Hancock, Associate Vice President Research Development, Yukon College; Émilie Parent, PhD Candidate, Université de Montréal; Pitseolak Pfeifer, MA Student, Northern Studies, Carleton University; Dr. Krista Robson, Chair of the Research Ethics Board and Professor, Red Deer College; Gabriel Snowboy, President, Nihtaauchin Chisasibi Center of Sustainability

Moderators: Ursula Gobel, Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Manon Tremblay, Director, Indigenous Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Takeaways and recommendations

  • There is an insatiable appetite for research in the Arctic.

  • Research and science have done little to better socio-economic indicators for the Inuit.

  • Try things out, small projects, deepen relationships over time. Person-to-person relationships are important (more than institutional). Consistency is key.

  • Researchers have a responsibility to come to the table prepared: staff and students at Yukon College are required to attend a course to build their core knowledge of history and relationships in Canada. They need to know the current context of relationships with indigenous cultures, the impacts of colonialism, and why research can be a dirty word. Students should graduate with this core competency.

  • We hold some responsibility as Canadians to understand truth and reconciliation, as well as self-determination and self-government.

  • Yukon College has a dedicated staff who works with researchers to help them co-develop relationships, to learn how to build partnerships, and how to benefit the communities they work in through, for instance, involving local schools in research.

  • The silos created in our academic environment are a barrier to capturing the potential of connecting. Relationship-building and trust take time.

  • Research needs to be in its own language. Engage local language speakers. Get community members to validate research. Applying local languages requires funding for engagement, translation, time to build relationships, and research analysis.

  • Learn protocols for relationship-building. Relationships begin long before the research begins and last long afterward.

  • The solution cannot be asking indigenous participants to conform to research methodologies.

  • Ethics boards, research boards, and other bodies also need to build relationships with communities.

  • Case study – designing a health-related project with an indigenous community:

    • Working with a community, find a solution that is part of their collective memory – for instance, bringing agriculture back to a community that practiced it in the past, with the community leading and creating better food security, lowering food costs, and making healthier food available locally.

    • Social innovation: let people tell the researchers what is important for them; in this case, their link with the land.

  • Northern communities innovate by incorporating new technologies to their ways.

  • We have to take a different approach to introducing new methods: take what people already know from stories to educate them, and relate the two to keep people interested in new ideas. Combine stories they tell with small projects; e.g. inspiring elders to continue to speak, and for us to speak for them.