The need to support Indigenous communities conducting research about food security and climate change is the focus of a project at Thompson Rivers University.
The TRU Knowledge Makers program is collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to deliver a culturally inclusive pilot program for femme-identified, Indigenous applicants from around the world.
The newest edition of the Knowledge Makers program at TRU is available for 20 international Indigenous women to strengthen and increase skills for Indigenous-led knowledge sharing and research.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to advance in the international stage is that Indigenous peoples’ knowledge is scientific knowledge and it needs to be valued at the same level as the Western kind — or however you want to label other systems of science,” said Mikaila Way of FAO North America and Indigenous Peoples Unit.
The deadline for interested candidates to apply to participate in the program is Dec. 16.
The year-long pilot program will be taught online in English and will result in peer-reviewed research articles from undergraduate students appearing in a special edition of the Knowledge Makers Journal, highlighting Indigenous-led research being completed globally.
The TRU Knowledge Makers program is hoping women from seven socio-cultural regions will apply and participate in the pilot program geared toward the advancement of research for Indigenous women, Indigenous peoples’ food and knowledge systems and climate action.
“It’s part of that whole transformation,” said Rod McCormick, who is director of the All My Relations Centre at TRU.
“Research used to be done on us. You know, with all those famous experiments with malnutrition and so on that they did in the ‘50s — just came out in the news in the last few years — when we were in residential schools, so we were kind of guinea pigs,” he said. “And then people started realizing Indigenous communities stopped allowing researchers in because they felt they were being sort of exploited. But then they started to hire researchers for land claims and such, realizing that ‘Hey, we need that for ourselves.’”
McCormick said guidelines on research and Indigenous communities were developed in the early 2000s.
“We convinced the government not to fund any research unless it was done with us in a meaningful way, so it went from being done on us, being done for us, being done with us and the last sort of step in this transformation is for research to be done by us.”
Each student will receive individual feedback from their instructors during the pilot program to ensure they are set up for success in producing and delivering a submission for a journal with each student’s findings.
“The main goal is to strengthen research for and by Indigenous women. This particular program is going to result in a journal that is peer reviewed and published globally,” said Jeneen Herns-Jensen, All My Relations Research Centre research associate.
“It will be a big step in amplifying decisions locally within the processes that affect them directly. This program also sets the stage for the future … This is a pilot program that is the first of its kind. We’re hoping to be able to duplicate it within other countries.”
To find out more about the pilot project and to apply before Dec. 16, go online to https://knowledgemakers.trubox.ca/knowledge-makers/knowledge-makers-journal/become-a-knowledge-maker/volume-9-unfao-edition-application-3/.