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A partnership spearheaded by INRS and funded by SSHRC connects universities and Aboriginal organizations

The Aboriginal World and the Challenges of Living Together

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September 3, 2014 // by Gisèle Bolduc
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All too often, public policies aimed at Aboriginal Peoples fall short of their objectives because their approach and underlying rationale are out of sync with the approaches, perspectives, knowledge, needs, and aspirations of the native communities in question. In fact they sometimes actually create undesirable consequences. Given this, how can we bring about profound and lasting social change within Aboriginal communities so as to ensure greater social justice and a fairer and more harmonious coexistence? A team of university researchers will put their heads together with Aboriginal leaders, stakeholders, and academics to examine this question as part of the project “The Aboriginal world and the challenges of living together: governance, pluriculturalism, and citizenship,” under the leadership of Carole Lévesque at Centre Urbanisation Culture Société at INRS. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has awarded a partnership grant of $2.6 million to the project.  

 

The objective of the research partnership is threefold. It aims to gain a better understanding of the situation of Aboriginal Peoples in the field, reconstruct the keys to understanding and analyzing social phenomena, and document the initiatives introduced by the authorities and by the communities themselves, initiatives that all too often fall below the radar or are intentionally overlooked. The partnership proposes to examine the situation from a different angle, taking into consideration the recent changes in Aboriginal affairs to highlight the contributions and initiatives of Aboriginal Peoples to improving their own socioeconomic conditions; characterize the mechanisms of change and the leadership, governance, and public participation practices in rural and urban environments; and assess the social, economic, political, and cultural impact of the emergence of an Aboriginal civil society in Canada and around the world. Special emphasis will also be placed on the training of aboriginal students and research staff. 

 

“Encouraging greater Aboriginal involvement in research is essential to our partnership, to help us better understand and document—from the inside—the rationale and development strategies in the areas of education, health care, social services, sustainable development, and social and economic development. The partnership is in itself a doorway to reconciliation, sharing, and action between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals,” notes professor Lévesque, who is also the director of DIALOG, the Aboriginal Peoples Research and Knowledge Network.

 

The seven-year project will take an innovative tack by suggesting new activities to co-produce knowledge and create a unique reference corpus, promoting Aboriginal initiatives, proposing a national and international comparison, and giving new impetus to the debate on governance, public policy, Aboriginal civil society, and relations between Aboriginals in urban versus rural/remote communities as well as between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals.

 

“This project by DIALOG is the continuation of a decade of fruitful collaboration between the university and Aboriginal communities. The initiative is proof of INRS’s commitment to the advancement of knowledge and its ability as an institution to rally researchers from different disciplines and universities together with Aboriginal leaders and key actors around a series of common objectives,” says Yves Bégin, vice president of research and academic affairs.

 

In addition to INRS, four Québec universities (Concordia, UQAM, UQAT, and Université Laval) and a number of Québec aboriginal organizations (Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec, the Assembly of the First Nations of Québec and Labrador, Québec Native Women Inc., Institut Tshakapesh, and Conseil tribal Mamuitun) will work in conjunction with universities and Aboriginal organizations from Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand. ♦

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