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Reclaiming research

National report paves way forward for Arctic, northern research in Canada


By Memorial University

Southern influences on Arctic and northern research have created several unaddressed systemic issues in Canadian research.

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, vice-provost of Memorial’s Labrador Campus, is a co-chair of the Council of Canadian Academies’ expert panel on the Future of Arctic and Northern Research in Canada.

The panel released a report this week, titled Northern Research Leadership and Equity.

The report details tactics for a transformational shift towards prioritizing Indigenous leadership, voices and engagement in Arctic and northern research in Canada.

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, a white woman in her early 40s, smiles at the camera against an out of focus background.
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo
Photo: Submitted

Arctic and northern research in Canada has long been dominated by southern researchers and institutions as well as southern interests, needs, priorities and perspectives, says Dr. Cunsolo.

“This has been reflected in research approaches that ignore Indigenous Peoples and their rights, cultures and knowledges, all of which are vital to understanding Arctic and northern environments and societies,” she said.

Report findings

The panel determined that an inclusive, collaborative and effective northern research system must be accessible and accountable to northern and Indigenous communities, while also safeguarding Indigenous knowledge systems and data.

“In describing a path that elevates Indigenous leadership and knowledges, the report can help transform research there, and elsewhere in Canada,” said Eric M. Meslin, president and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies.

A one-page summary details the main findings of the report under four key pillars, found below.

  1. Funding, e.g. expanded eligibility criteria that promote inclusivity
  2. Infrastructure, e.g. responsibility for ethics review and research approvals lies with Indigenous institutions
  3. Data, e.g. information is shared in accessible formats and languages
  4. Education, e.g. compulsory education about the history and peoples of the North for southern researchers and institutions undertaking research

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