Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic January 12, 2010 - 5:22 pm

ITK launches Arctic research centre

Inuit Qaujisarvingat hopes to help science, Inuit knowledge work together

CHRIS WINDEYER

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami announced Tuesday the launch of its own Arctic research centre that aims to bridge gaps between science and Inuit traditional knowledge.

Inuit Qaujisarvingat: The Inuit Knowledge Centre will help Inuit “access the systems of western science” while helping scientists make use of Inuit knowledge, ITK announced during a news conference in Ottawa.

“From the time of first contact, Inuit have been surveyed and studied by western scientists wanting to bring greater insight into Arctic peoples,” said ITK president Mary Simon.

“They studied us, and while there was much for us to learn during these interactions, they were almost always one-sided, providing us with little opportunity to contribute to the greater picture of Arctic knowledge.”

Inuit Qaujisarvingat will produce guides for “appropriate” research practices in Inuit communities and forge partnerships with foundations, universities governments and non-governmental organizations.

The result, Simon hopes, is more Inuit control over scientific research, and a way to ensure that Inuit communities and governments have access to research data.

“We want to make sure that work is being done in a way that not only helps inform, let’s say national governments or provincial governments or other agencies, but it actually helps inform the Inuit who are building their own governments and setting up their own programs,” Simon said.

In Nunavut, the Nunavut Research Institute already provides permits to researchers, while other Government of Nunavut departments and agencies also have some regulatory roles. Some southern researchers also seek letters of support from local councils before starting their work.

“It’s not something that’s brand new,” Simon acknowledged. “A lot of this work is being done. We’re hoping to add value to the whole thing.”

Inuit Qaujisarvingat will be housed in ITK’s Ottawa offices and draw from the organization’s existing budget and staff, Simon said. The knowledge centre also got a $50,000 startup grant from the Inuit Secretariat at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

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