Highlights of Granting Agency Indigenous Research Initiatives
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Since the early 2000s, SSHRC has pursued a proactive and engaged commitment to Indigenous research. Throughout its dialogue with First Nations, and Inuit Métis peoples, SSHRC has gained a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the unique aspects of Indigenous research, and how they vary and interconnect with other ways of conducting research in the social sciences and humanities.Footnote 1
Over the past two decades, support for Indigenous research and research training has been growing steadily within the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), notably in the form of new funds, new programs and new partnerships with Indigenous communities. Between 2008 and 2017, SSHRC invested $360 million in funding for research on Indigenous themes and issues through 3,200 grants and scholarships, roughly 10 percent of SSHRC’s total funding for research.
National Dialogue on Research and Aboriginal Peoples (2002-2003)
SSHRC’s commitment to support Indigenous research and research training began with the adoption of a resolution by Council in 2002, where the thematic area of “Aboriginal Peoples” was identified as a priority research area.Footnote 2 In response, SSHRC launched a national dialogue that included over 50 briefs from a wide cross-section of Indigenous organizations and academics and, on November 29, 2002, SSHRC’s first-ever national round table on Indigenous research issues. This dialogue brought together 65 Indigenous, academic, government and community representatives from across Canada to discuss humanities and social sciences research in relation to Indigenous Peoples. In addition, over 325 individuals responded to SSHRC’s invitation to participate in electronic discussion groups.
The final phase of the dialogue was the preparation of a discussion paper, Opportunities in Aboriginal ResearchFootnote 3.
Aboriginal Research Pilot Program (2003-2010)
In 2003, SSHRC approved a recommendation by the Standing Committee for Research Support to develop a pilot program in Aboriginal Research. Shortly thereafter, SSHRC launched its Aboriginal Research Pilot Program, offering competitions in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. The driving principle of the program was to open up and sustain research by and with Indigenous Peoples (scholars and communities), as opposed to research for or on Indigenous Peoples. In 2008, SSHRC launched a formative evaluation of the PilotFootnote 4, covering 83 projects over three competitions totaling $12.7 million. SSHRC engaged First Nations, Métis and Inuit knowledge keepers in setting the direction for its evaluation of the pilot program.
The Aboriginal Research Pilot Program held its final competition in 2009-10, but SSHRC committed to continuing review and implementation of several of the program’s recommendations, pending available financial and human resources.
Imagining Canada’s Future (2013-present)
SSHRC launched the Imagining Canada’s Future initiative in 2013. Following a rigorous foresight exercise, six future challenge areas were identified as being most critical for Canada, including a dedicated focus on exploring how the experiences, knowledge systems and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples contribute to a shared future. In 2016, SSHRC launched a Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition to generate insights and promote knowledge sharing. With additional funding from the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), 28 projects were awarded grants. These projects covered a range of critical thematic issues through the lens of Indigenous worldviews and approaches. In addition, several of the projects under the other future challenge areas, including natural resources and energy, new ways of learning and teaching, digital technologies and a globalized society, were addressed from Indigenous perspectives. Summary reports of all the Knowledge Synthesis Grants are available on SSHRC’s website.
Indigenous Advisory Circle (2014-present)
An Indigenous Advisory Circle was established in 2014 to support SSHRC in developing an integrated strategy for Indigenous research, including the Indigenous Research Statement of Principles (see below). More elaborate Terms of Reference were developed for the Circle in 2018, whose overall mandate is now to "provide guidance to SSHRC senior management related to measures that support and promote Indigenous research and talent development, especially with the goal of advancing reconciliation."Footnote 5
More specifically, the Circle provides advice on:
- Any issues affecting Indigenous Peoples and their participation in social science and humanities research and in the work of SSHRC;
- Ways of understanding and respecting Indigenous knowledge systems, including ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies, as important contributions to interdisciplinary collaboration;
- Integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, histories, cultures, languages, practices and insights in the work of SSHRC;
- Optimal accommodation and inclusion of Indigenous faculty, postdocs, and students in SSHRC’s granting processes;
- Recruitment and retention of Indigenous staff, merit review committee members, and Indigenous members of SSHRC Council; and
- Optimal engagement of Indigenous communities, organizations and leadership across the country.
Membership to the Circle is comprised of at least 15 members, including two co-chairs nominated by the Circle. At least one member of the Circle is an Algonquin Elder or knowledge keeper, in recognition of SSHRC’s location on Algonquin territory. Other members include First Nations, Inuit and Métis researchers; non-Indigenous researchers with in-depth experience working in partnership with Indigenous communities; and, as ex-officio members, the SSHRC Vice-President Research and a representative of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
The Circle meets in person up to two times per year, while members may also be called upon to participate by teleconference or email on an as-needed basis.
Indigenous Research Statement of Principles and related initiatives (2015-present)
In May 2015, in the context of ongoing dialogue with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and in close collaboration with the Indigenous Advisory Circle, SSHRC launched an Indigenous Research Statement of Principles and related resources in support of Indigenous research and talent. These resources included a revised definition of Indigenous research and the introduction of guidelines for the merit review of Indigenous research.
These guidelines are intended to supplement existing SSHRC materials, as well as complement Chapter 9 of the TCPS2. They provide interpretive points to assist and to ensure coherence among merit review committees in applying SSHRC’s evaluation criteria, as well as introduce key concepts for the review of Indigenous research (e.g., Indigenous or traditional knowledge, community, reciprocity, respect, and relevance).
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
|1||Increase CIHR capacity to interact with Indigenous communities in a culturally appropriate manner, through the creation of a dedicated team assigned to work directly with Indigenous Peoples, researchers, and communities.||Ongoing||
|2||Ensure that the Federal Government is made aware that the membership of CIHR’s Governing Council should reflect the diversity of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.||Complete||
|3||Accept the definition of “Indigenous health research” as drafted by the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health in consultation with Indigenous stakeholders.||Complete||
|4||Develop, in collaboration with the newly appointed Institute Advisory Board on Indigenous Peoples’ Health, performance indicators to validate CIHR investments in Indigenous health research.||Complete||
|5||Increase its investments in Indigenous health research to a minimum of 4.6% (proportional to Canada’s Indigenous population) of CIHR's annual budget.||Annually||
|6||Seek to grow these investments as research capacity and additional financial resources allow.||Ongoing||
|7||Continue working with the Reference Group on Indigenous Health Research to implement iterative peer review processes for applications relevant to Indigenous health, so as to ensure better success rates for Indigenous-focused investigator-initiated grant applications.||
|8||Create, with the advice of the Institute Advisory Board on Indigenous Peoples’ Health, impactful strategic initiatives aimed at improving the health of Indigenous Peoples.||Ongoing||
|9||Hold annual meetings between the President of CIHR and leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council to discuss Indigenous health research priorities.||Annually||
|10||Work with other federal research councils to develop strategies to strengthen Indigenous research capacity development through training and mentoring along the entire career continuum from undergraduate to postdoctoral levels.||Ongoing||
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Research and Knowledge Mobilization Networks
India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (2012-2021)
IC-IMPACTS and its partners are developing and implementing community-based solutions to meet the most urgent needs faced by some communities in Canada and India: poor water quality, unsafe and unsustainable infrastructure, and poor health from water-borne and infectious diseases. As an example of the impactful work they do, a March 2019 call for proposals is dedicated to the design and construction of low-cost, resilient, energy efficient, and safe housing for First Nations communities, an area of immediate and high priority for IC-IMPACTS and their partner communities.
RESEAU Centre for Mobilizing Innovation (2019-2023 Networks of Centres of Excellence-Knowledge Mobilization Program)
RESEAU’s goal is to accelerate the creation of sustainable improvements in drinking water health for Canadian Indigenous and non-urban (I+NU) communities. RESEAU’s Community Circle™ model for innovation customizes solutions for communities, with decisions, practices, technologies and services tailored to a community’s unique needs. It systematically collects and assesses existing knowledge of potential solutions, while capturing and weighing the perspective of all the stakeholders involved in I+NU water system upgrades.
This NCE-KM grant builds on the tremendous successes of the RES’EAU-WaterNET (NSERC Strategic Network, 2013-2018), which accomplished notable goals such as the lifting of long-standing boil-water advisories in the Lytton First Nation, British Columbia.
Canadian Mountain Network (2019-2024 Networks of Centres of Excellence)
The Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) is Canada’s first national research organization dedicated to mountains. CMN’s vision is for all Canadians to benefit from state-of-the-art research, tools and training that embody multiple ways of knowing, so that decision-making and action can enhance the sustainability and well-being of our mountain places and peoples. CMN will pursue this research in the context of four critical challenges:
- The decolonization of policy and decision-making in mountain regions;
- The management of the impacts of change affecting mountain ecosystems and ways of life;
- The certainty that Indigenous ways of knowing and doing inform land use decision-making, policy and practice; and
- The support for mountain communities as they diversify their economies.
The goal of PromoScience is to increase science literacy among young Canadians and boost the number of students who pursue studies and careers in STEM fields. The program places an emphasis on underrepresented groups such as young women, girls and Indigenous Canadians in the K-12 system.
Actua is one of the largest recipients of PromoScience funding. Actua’s programming showcases northern science and incorporates traditional knowledge to make the lessons locally and culturally relevant for youth.
Science Rendezvous is an NSERC-sponsored national science festival with events in northern communities that incorporate traditional knowledge to provide culturally-relevant science activities.
2016 NSERC Award for Science Promotion – Elephant Thoughts
Elephant Thoughts Education Outreach is making outstanding contributions to the promotion of STEM to Indigenous communities. Their programming brings together traditional Indigenous knowledge with Western science. Elephant Thoughts has developed curriculum for students at the Cree School Board in Northern Quebec, and its unique science and math programs have raised graduation rates for students by a factor of almost 10, from 1.7 percent to 15.6 percent over a three-year period.
Aboriginal Ambassadors in the Natural Sciences and Engineering
This program aims to engage Indigenous students and fellows in promoting interest and participation in the natural sciences and engineering by visiting Canada’s Indigenous communities and schools and sharing their research and education experiences or participating in science promotion events and activities. The requirements of this program have recently been changed to better support Indigenous students in the establishment of their research careers.
Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)
USRAs are meant to develop potential for research careers. NSERC encourages qualified Indigenous students to apply for this award. From 2013-14 to 2017-18, 348 Indigenous undergrads have participated in the program, increasing year-over-year.
Research and Training
NSERC Discovery Grant Researchers integrating Indigenous knowledge into research
Dr. Jesse Popp (Mount Allison University) incorporates Indigenous science approaches and traditional ecological knowledge, which underpins her specialization in wildlife management, conservation biology, terrestrial ecology, and restoration ecology. Dr. Popp was first funded in 2009 and 2013 through subsequent NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Master’s and Doctoral Scholarships. She received her first NSERC Discovery Grant in 2018.
Dr. Susan Kutz (University of Calgary) is working closely with Indigenous communities in Nunavut to understand the decline of muskox, an important resource for many northern communities where climate change is significantly impacting livelihoods. Dr. Kutz’s research relies heavily on traditional knowledge, community-based surveillance and scientific approaches. Dr. Kutz holds an NSERC Discovery Grant, Northern Research Supplement and a PromoScience Award.
NSERC Discovery Researchers Grant connecting with Indigenous youth
Dr. Joerg Bohlmann (University of British Columbia) explores conifers’ natural defenses against insects, an important resource whose health is increasingly threatened by outbreaks of forest insect pests. Dr. Bolhmann’s research program trains and mentors Indigenous high school, undergraduate and graduate students.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: