Government of Canada supports Indigenous research capacity and reconciliation


The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, PC, MP
Minister of Science and Sport

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
January 14, 2019

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, everyone.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered in Treaty Six Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. This land is a traditional gathering place for many Indigenous peoples whose histories, languages and cultures continue to enrich our country.

Thank you, Dr. Hewitt, for your kind words. And thank you, Elder Mary Lee, for the welcome blessing.

And thank you to all of you for being here today to help us celebrate this special announcement.

It is an honour to be joined by such inspiring people who are addressing us today. Thank you for joining us.

Since our government came to office in 2015, we have been working to renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples—one based on respect, co-operation, partnership and recognition of rights.

For example, we endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and we committed to its full implementation.

We established Recognition of Rights and Self-Determination discussion tables, through which the Government and Indigenous peoples work together on the priorities necessary to advance Indigenous self-determination.

We signed agreements with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation outlining each community’s distinct priorities and how we can work together to achieve them.

We also announced reforms to the environmental assessment process for major resource projects.

We want to better recognize Indigenous rights and traditional knowledge and give Indigenous peoples more involvement when it comes to development in their communities.

As we all know, these are not always easy steps to take. Recent events in British Columbia show us that there is still work to be done.

We know everything will not be fixed overnight. We are trying to reverse hundreds of years of colonialism. But what is important is that we keep pushing forward each and every day.

We value Indigenous research: it embraces all the dimensions of knowledge about the interconnectedness of people, the land and the natural environment.

When we introduced our 2018 budget, we allocated $4 billion to science and research, the largest investment in research in the history of our country.

And we are making sure that this monumental investment powers fundamental change in the research ecosystem in Canada.

Which brings us to today’s announcement. Congratulations to the recipients of the Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation–Connection Grants.

These 116 recipients will receive up to $50,000 each to do their research. The grants recognize the inherent value of traditional knowledge systems, and the resulting work will identify new ways of doing research with Indigenous communities. 

This is a $5.6-million program, and more than half the grants are being awarded to Indigenous not-for-profit organizations.

These grants are designed to support community gatherings, workshops and activities that make use of traditional ways-of-knowing, as well as encourage dialogue and knowledge-sharing.

What is learned will then be shared at a national conference later this year.

This national conversation will lead us to the next important steps toward reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit and will strengthen the research community across the country.

We need sound research to make sound policy choices. This is a principle our government respects fully and has honoured since day one.

Our government takes this very seriously, and we will act in a way that is fair, inclusive and in full partnership.

We value Indigenous research and traditional ways of knowing because it helps us to better understand the connectivity of people, places and our natural environment. And that matters.

We still have a long way to go, but the steps we’re taking today are a great start. And I want the recipients to know that our government will be with them every step of the way. We will walk together, hand-in-hand, toward a better, stronger and fairer Canada.

I can’t wait to see what the grant recipients will develop, learn and discover.

I now have the pleasure of introducing Dr. Melissa Arcand, one of the 116 grant recipients. Her collaboration with Indigenous Works as an expert in soil biogeochemistry is helping make crops more efficient and healthy.

Dr. Arcand received her PhD in Soil Science from the University of Saskatchewan and conducted her post-doctoral research with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

She grew up on a farm on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan. Dr. Arcand is a true mentor to her students, helping them to learn resource management and land governance in Indigenous communities across Canada.

Please join me in welcoming Melissa.

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