Ot­tawa fund­ing Indige­nous re­search

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SASKA­TOON Canada’s sci­ence min­is­ter ac­knowl­edged Indige­nous rights protests across the coun­try last week while an­nounc­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in “trans­for­ma­tional” fund­ing for in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions con­duct­ing Indige­nous re­search.Speak­ing with re­porters at Wanuskewin Her­itage Park, Kirsty Dun­can said the $5.6-mil­lion pro­gram — around $300,000 of which will flow into Saskatchewan — will help the coun­try move to­ward un­der­stand­ing and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.“There are go­ing to be chal­lenges along the way. This is hun­dreds of years of colo­nial­ism, so we’ll have chal­lenges along the way. But to­day is a re­ally good step,” Dun­can said when asked about anti-pipe­line protests.Sparked by a con­fronta­tion be­tween RCMP and mem­bers of the Wet’suwet’en First Na­tion over a liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas pipe­line pro­ject in north­ern B.C., the protests spread quickly.Dur­ing her speech to about 30 peo­ple, Dun­can said “there is still work to be done,” and “ev­ery­thing will not be fixed overnight” while em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of the re­search money.That cash will be di­vided among 116 re­cip­i­ents, each of whom is el­i­gi­ble for up to $50,000. Six of the re­cip­i­ents, who col­lec­tively will re­ceive $292,050, are lo­cated in Saskatchewan.One of them is Univer­sity of Saskatchewan soil sci­en­tist Melissa Ar­cand, whose $34,000 grant cov­ers the cost of hold­ing a two-day fo­rum aimed at learn­ing more about Indige­nous farm­ers in the prov­ince.Ac­cord­ing to the univer­sity, the re­cent event brought to­gether more than 80 Indige­nous lead­ers, land man­agers, farm­ers and re­searchers, as well as non-indige­nous re­searchers and of­fi­cials, to share in­for­ma­tion.There is cur­rently “very lit­tle” in­for­ma­tion about Indige­nous farm­ers and the land they cul­ti­vate — an es­ti­mated four mil­lion acres in Saskatchewan alone, Ar­cand said.Ar­cand is one of four U of S re­searchers to re­ceive money un­der the Indige­nous Re­search Ca­pac­ity and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Con­nec­tion Grants pro­gram, which Dun­can said is the first of its kind, but not the last.Other projects to re­ceive money in­clude a $28,000 com­mu­nity-based source wa­ter pro­tec­tion plan at Onion Lake Cree Na­tion and a col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search pro­ject aimed at ad­dress­ing hous­ing and wa­ter is­sues.

Kirsty Dun­can

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