Nunavut organizations receive $3.5 million for community-led research

“This type of research grant is huge because it enables us to do research within our territory”

Gwen Healey Akearok, executive and scientific director of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre in Iqaluit, says a $3.5-million grant for community-led research in Nunavut is “a testament to what we are all capable of as Nunavummiut when we work together.” (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Four Nunavut organizations will share a $3.5-million federal grant to conduct community-led health and well-being research in the territory.

The Aqqiumavvik Society in Arviat, the Qaggiavuut Society for the Performing Arts in Iqaluit, the Ilisaqsivik Society and Ittaq Research Centre in Clyde River and the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre in Iqaluit will split the grant evenly.

Together, the organizations form a research network called the Nunavut Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research.

The grant, which is distributed over five years, comes from the Institute for Indigenous Peoples Health through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The IIPH helps develop research capacity in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and supports partnerships between communities and health research groups.

“This funding provides support to community-based organizations with a history of developing research programs and will focus primarily on providing financial support and mentorship to students and learners,” a news release said.

It’s the first time the grant has been awarded in Nunavut.

“It’s a testament to what we are all capable of as Nunavummiut when we work together. We have brilliant methods, tools, and approaches to research and knowledge in our communities. We see this as an opportunity to work together in Nunavut to support our students, collect the evidence that addresses our health questions, and elevate strong promising practices into our systems and further to the rest of Canada and the circumpolar world,” Gwen Healey Akearok, Qaujigiartiit’s executive and scientific director, told Nunatsiaq News.

Qaujigiartiit will oversee the research conducted by the award-winning organizations, Ceporah Mearns, director of the Nunavut NEIHR and a research associate at Qaujigiartiit, told Nunatsiaq News.

“Being eligible for this type of research grant is huge because it enables us to do research within our territory, as opposed to it being situated in the south and southern researchers coming up to the North,” Mearns said.

“We are in a really good position that we are able to host this and to conduct research in our communities by our community members.”

Mearns also said the grant will help fund research already being done by each organization and support the development of new projects.

“If there’s, for example, a land-based program that is taking place and we know that it’s contributing to the health and wellness of young people, we want to be able to record that and say that this is working and addressing the needs of this community, so action can be taken to continue to provide support [to] programs like that,” Mearns said.

The Nunavut NEIHR has several objectives, which include supporting community-based health research in Nunavut, developing an environment that will support Inuit community leadership in health research, and creating a foundation for future generations of researchers from Nunavut.

“Research today is so important for action, especially in our communities. We want to be able to do research with a purpose, to do research for action. With the grant that we have received for the NEIHR, we are enabling our communities to be able to do that,” Mearns said.

The funding may be renewed for two further five-year periods.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by ELS on

    Are there going to be qualified researchers doing this work? I’d be curious to see what they produce.

  2. Posted by Frank Tester on

    It’s about time. Wonderful to see this happen and I will be very interested in and supportive of your initiatives. I hope relating health – in all its dimensions – to housing and food security will be close to the top of your list. Congrats!

  3. Posted by Karl Popper on

    “Research today is so important for action, especially in our communities. We want to be able to do research with a purpose, to do research for action…”
    This is an interesting quote; enthusiastic and positive, but I would like to add a word of caution.

    There has always been a trend in research, academics and even journalism toward activism. I detect that in this statement and that is why I felt compelled to respond.
    First consider ‘motivated reasoning,’ defined as “reasoning in which people access, construct, and evaluate arguments in a biased fashion to arrive at or endorse a preferred conclusion.” This suggests that people often look to reinforce pre-held understandings, views and biases when looking at the world, leading to conclusions that have been determined before the research began (this is often done subconsciously). These kinds of distortions are not uncommon and explain why peer review is introduced to scientific method as a ‘double check;’ to detect and weed out bias. Unfortunately, even ‘peer review’ has been badly corrupted (check out the link:
    The purpose under an activist framework is to make the world a better place; and who doesn’t want that? The larger question then is how do we get there? I would submit that the true ‘purpose’ for scientists and researchers is to uncover objective truths about how the world is; or put more simply, to produce knowledge. Note that knowledge today is a very contentious word. As researchers you must be prepared for your discoveries to run contrary to popular opinion and consensus. To be a good researcher you must be brave as Galileo or Bruno.

    Young researchers, be mindful that your purpose is not to tell us what we already know, because what we know may be wrong. In fact, what we know often is at the very least, an incomplete reflection on the world distorted by personal, societal and peer group biases. Your purpose is the see through those distortions and that noise as best you can and tell us world how the world is.

    • Posted by Samuel Hunt on

      Have to agree with this, advocacy is not real research. The way Akereok words this makes it seem this will be an exercise in getting more funding by finding fund worthy issues. All backed with the weight of northerners doing their own “research”… how exciting!

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