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Traditional knowledge the subject of research project

Author: 
By Shauna Lewis Windspeaker Contributor OTTAWA
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
4
Year: 
2012

Incorporating Indigenous knowledge into managing Canada’s fisheries is just one research project recently funded by Ottawa, announced May 25 by Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology).
Social sciences and humanities researchers at various post-secondary institutions across Canada will form research partnerships among the academic, private, public and not-for-profit sectors due to a $70 million federal provision through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

The SSHRC is the federal agency that promotes and supports post-secondary-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences.

The funds are expected to assist 92 different research projects over a span of seven years.

Some of the money will go to SSHRC for an interdisciplinary project on fisheries governance and decision-making known as the Fisheries–Western and Indigenous Knowledge Systems project [Fish-WIKS] project.

Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University and the Assembly of First Nations along with their partnership organizations—the First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia, the Government of Nunavut, the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, and researchers from University of Guelph, University of Toronto, and Vancouver Island University— will benefit from the funds.
The fisheries management research project theme, “Exploring distinct Indigenous knowledge systems to inform fisheries governance and management on Canada’s coasts” is a community-led project that considers the improvement of fisheries management regimes in Canada by incorporating Indigenous traditional knowledge systems for enhanced decision-making within the context of climate change.

The project, which is expected to take place over five years, will train multiple doctoral, masters and undergraduate students and is expected to be a model for future partnership projects between universities and Indigenous communities.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada believes the proposed research… will offer useful insight into understanding the contributions Aboriginal traditional knowledge systems can provide to federally managed fisheries in Canada,” Keith Ashfield, minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

“These multisectoral research partnerships are key to innovation and to building knowledge for Canada’s future,” said Dr. Chad Gaffield, president of the SSHRC.
“With this funding support, we are gaining insight about, and developing innovative solutions to today’s social, economic and cultural issues, while training the next generation of researchers and leaders,” he added.

Minister Goodyear’s announcement of the funding into fisheries research comes weeks before he voted with his Conservative Caucus in favor or the omnibus Bill C-38.
The omnibus Bill C-38, which passed without amendment in the House of Commons June 13, is being widely criticized by environmentalists and First Nations leaders for its mandate to slash currently implemented legislation that protects air, water and the Nation’s most vulnerable wildlife.

But despite legislative agendas, Ottawa maintains that research funding should always provide benefits to Canadians and that support for specific research programs has nothing to do with political interests.

“Our government believes that research funding should always have the potential to provide benefits to Canadians and this project is no exception,” said Goodyear. “It is very important that these projects do get funded so that Canadian research can lead to new jobs and new economic growth. We would never jeopardize that by doing anything that would call the decision- making process into question,” he added. “I have no hand in choosing which projects get funded or rejected,” Goodyear explained. “That way, Canadian taxpayers can rest assured that projects are chosen because of merit, not because of any political interests.

The minister’s office also stressed that decisions regarding scientific grants are made by independent panels of scientists through a rigorous peer-review process.

A full list of the grant recipients is available on the SSHRC website.

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