U of S researchers receive grants aimed at Indigenous research
- NC Raine | January 15, 2019
Four researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have received research grants aimed to revitalize agriculture on Indigenous lands, ensure safe water supplies, design sustainable communities, and foster reconciliation.
The awards are part of the Government of Canada’s new Connection Grants which support Indigenous research capacity and knowledge sharing. Announced on January 14 at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon, the four U of S researchers will receive more than $160,000 in grant funding by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The grants are part of $5.6 million supporting 116 projects across the country, said Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan.
“These are new important steps in research toward reconciliation,” said Minister Duncan at the announcement. “I can’t wait to see what the award winners will accomplish, develop, learn, and what we will do together in these first steps.”
Duncan said that of the $5.6 million investment in research, more than half of the grants are being awarded to Indigenous not-for-profit organizations.
“It is very clear that there is tremendous interest and engagement from across Canada in this new program, and researchers from across Canada are exploring a rich array of various subject matters,” said Ted Hewitt, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
The four grant recipients each study a unique discipline, but share an interest in exploring Indigenous related issues. The recipients are Melissa Arcand, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources; Keith Carlson, history professor; Robert Patrick, associate professor in Geography and Planning; and Alexandria Wilson, education professor and director of the Aboriginal Education Research Centre.
Arcand, who received a $34,000 grant, used the funds to host a two-day forum on Indigenous agriculture in Saskatchewan. The forum brought together more than 80 Indigenous leaders and agriculture experts to share information on the estimated 4 million acres of reserve lands used for agriculture.
“There’s virtually no published data about agriculture on First Nations lands in Canada, including how many Indigenous farmers there are, how much reserve land is used for agricultural production,” said Arcand.
The grant made it possible to hold a forum to fill this knowledge gap and establish a vision for Indigenous agriculture, said Arcand.
The largest of the four grants, of $50,000, was awarded to Alexandria Wilson, for a community-led collaborative research project that helps address key concerns of adequate housing, and water and wastewater issues in many Indigenous communities. Her project brought together researchers and students to design and build a mobile washroom and kitchen powered by solar and wind energy, with the intent to incorporate the design into communities in Saskatchewan.
Keith Carlson and his Stó:lō Indigenous partners were awarded $49,000 to develop resources that will help foster reconciliation between Indigenous and settler Canadian societies, with the goal to reflect gender, age, social status, educational and political diversity in envisioning reconciliation.
Robert Patrick was awarded $28,000 to facilitate a source water protection plan involving Onion Lake Cree Nation and the North Saskatchewan River Basin Council. The project identifies potential threats to the water supply, strategy to mitigate risk, and will ultimately release a water protection plan to the community in April.
“[The grants] announcement on strengthening Indigenous research capacity and strengthening the research acumen of Indigenous organizations is going to make a huge difference in Canada’s socioeconomic outcomes,” said Patricia Baxter, co-chair of Indigenous Works. “There’s an important role for research to play to identify innovative developments and approaches that will assist Indigenous people in achieving (their) goals now and in the future.”