Charter Members will Pursue Five Themes
We have designated five discussion categories that will be vigorously pursued during the upcoming Charter Planning Process. As part of the online facilitation processes, partners will be organized into planning teams, a new online planning tool will be introduced, and digital sticky notes will be shared in large digital sharing circles.
- Innovation Awareness and Education
- Research Collaborations
- Knowledge Transfer and Dissemination
- Knowledge Mobilization and Indigenous Business Innovation
- Indigenous Research Talent
Each of these themes offer rich dimensions for discussion. Some examples follow here.
In the past, colleges and universities effectively by-passed Indigenous people and communities in favour of these institutions identifying their own priorities and conducting their own ‘Indigenous research’. This approach lingers on today. There are deep institutional patterns and structures that need to be reset, and new systems and mechanisms introduced which will encourage new generations of Indigenous people to create their own research agendas which benefit their communities and wellbeing.
Indigenous people and businesses have had few opportunities to understand and explore the value of research to innovate their own businesses and economies. They lack the capacity and strategies to identify community-based research priorities.
Were these issues to be surmounted, improved awareness of the role of research would enable new growth in Indigenous economic and business development in a wide range of sectors notably agriculture/agrifoods, renewable energy, environmental industries, healthcare, and forestry. These are sectors that align naturally with Indigenous value structures and knowledge systems which emphasize the importance of sustainable growth, wellbeing, and intergenerational connectedness, among others.
Indigenous communities currently lack the capacity or processes to identify (community-based) research priorities. Systems and research infrastructure needed include the development of Indigenous ‘value-creation models’ which enable Indigenous communities and businesses to prioritize their research needs while recognizing wellbeing in tandem with economic priorities. Part and parcel with this are the need to decolonize and Indigenize research approaches so that they align more closely with Indigenous needs. New models for ‘community-based value creation’ are at the heart of what is needed to identify Indigenous led research collaborations. New strategies are needed to grow research collaborations which result in economic and wellbeing benefits accruing to communities. It means moving from a deficit picture to a future which enlists the best research minds to grow community economies in ways to which communities aspire.
The post secondary research community has little knowledge of the Indigenous business community and visa versa. These communities rarely interact and there are no systems in place for Indigenous businesses to access the knowledge which researchers are generating. The current systems which enable Indigenous people to find Indigenous researchers are not well organized.
Charter members see the potential for Indigenous development corporations to work together with Canadian corporations on research agendas that are to a scale and level never yet dreamed about. Large Canadian corporations have tremendous assets and resources which if channeled in directions that Indigenous communities want and encourage, could lead to exponential growth. These are the strategies that Charter partners will discuss, laying out new ideas for knowledge transfer among Indigenous businesses, Indigenous development corporations, large Canadian corporations, and post-secondary research organizations.
The end results of these collaborations will be long term partnerships which benefit all parties. It will mean continued and sustained streams of research funding for post secondary institutions, new markets, customers, investors and partners for Canadian corporations as well as accelerated growth and diversification on the part of Indigenous development corporations including new business development and jobs in communities. The scale of these collaborations will do much toward achieving the goal of a $100 Billion Indigenous economy.
Moving forward, one issue is a lack of capacity on the part of Indigenous businesses to advance applications for funding for their own research and development needs. It is important to understand capacity needs in the Indigenous context as it relates to their ability to articulate a research agenda and seek funds to support it. Many Indigenous communities are ‘treading water’, pre-occupied with deep social issues which are eclipsing their ability to think in longer or strategic terms. Charter members will want to explore ‘workarounds’ to address these capacity issues as well as put their minds to other impediments to knowledge mobilization and innovation.
There are insufficient numbers of Indigenous researchers in place and no human resource strategies to develop this research talent. In general, we know very little about the career trajectories of Indigenous researchers and what motivates them to complete their education and choose research as a preferred career. It is important for Charter members to understand the drivers for young people to get into a research career and whether and how their research pathways were influenced by factors such as their desire to 'give back' to their communities. If we could uncover more information about this and other motives it would be powerful in aiding our understanding about the underlying reasons why an Indigenous person would choose research as a career path. It would also help us encourage more Indigenous youth to follow this career in the future. Growth of an Indigenous research cohort must be a goal of this initiative.