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Research on major societal issues: Indigenous education and health

September 23, 2021

Update : September 23, 2021

INRS and UQAT welcome the arrival of two new professors at their UMR in Indigenous Studies.

Two new professors will join the Joint Research Unit in Indigenous Studies (UMR) of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) and l’Université du Québec en Abitiibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT).They will be based at the First Peoples Pavilion of the UQAT campus in Val-d’Or. The professors, Nancy Wiscutie-Crépeau and Mireille De La Sablonnière-Griffin will carry out large-scale projects targeting key issues of the UMR: education, as well as health and wellness.

This unique showcase in Canada focuses on the contribution of indigenous communities to training and research Within the framework of the 6th edition of the National Forum on Reconciliation, the two university partners are committed to taking concrete action by generating a co-construction of knowledge that responds first and foremost to the expectations and orientations identified by the Indigenous authorities concerned, and whose results are likely to have applications throughout Quebec.

A reappropriation and valorization of the Anicinape language in education

Professor Nancy Wiscutie-Crépeau

Professor Nancy Wiscutie-Crépeau, a certified teacher, pursued her doctoral studies in second language education at the Faculty of Education of the University of Ottawa. Because of her training and her life experience, she is interested in the place of Indigenous languages in the school environment. Her work has focused on the teaching of Anicinapemowin in the education sector of the community of Kitcisakik. Sensitive to the decline of this language, being herself of Anicinape and Cree/Eeyou origins, she will work, over the next two years, in collaboration with the community for the next two years, on the design of an Anicinape language transmission program for the elementary level and an outdoor Anicinape language immersion program for children in kindergarten.

“There is something very promising in this project. A joint unit will give us the opportunity to create research collaborations by bringing together different disciplines that will contribute to broadening our perspective on Indigenous issues in education and to better understand these very complex realities.”

Professor Nancy Wiscutie-Crépeau

“This understanding is necessary to advance First Nations education and the reconciliation process. Together we can build a world that will help rebalance relations between peoples and repair the damage that has been done to Indigenous languages for too long,” adds professor Wiscutie-Crépeau.

The researcher will collaborate with a multidisciplinary team composed of a biologist and a videographer, who will not only document Indigenous knowledge but also produce reference and educational material for preschool and elementary school students. She will also work with an educational program advisor who will focus on accompanying school personnel in their professional development, among other things, with regard to knowledge and consideration of the social, cultural, linguistic and historical context in which they practice their profession.

Better support for child and family services

Professor Mireille De La Sablonnière-Griffin

Professor Mireille De La Sablonnière-Griffin comes from a background in social work and is interested in the well-being of Indigenous children and youth, particularly from the perspective of existing and expected social services. Having obtained a PhD from McGill University’s School of Social Work, she has a wealth of experience with key players in the health and social services sectors.

The researcher hopes to conduct two projects. The first will focus on the province-wide situation of First Nations children in Quebec’s youth protection services. In the context of the Viens and the Laurent Commissions, the objective is to continue collaborating with the organizations representing First Nations so that they can understand the evolution of the situation over time, thus allowing them to better represent the interests of their members, and also allowing them to support the well-being of children in youth protection.

A second project will be built in collaboration with a First Nations community and aims to document the process of developing their proposed legislation for child and family services under the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Child, Youth and Family Services Act. The goal is to create a guide that can benefit other communities wishing to engage in the same process.

“We are going to go further in our project. There have been developments in recent years regarding Indigenous youth services offered in Quebec. This UMR will help improve our work and anchor it in a more international context.”

Professor Mireille De La Sablonnière-Griffin

Solid foundations to train the next generation of Indigenous Studies researchers 

The UMR INRS-UQAT in Indigenous Studies is already working towards the creation of new master’s and doctoral programs in Indigenous Studies in Quebec in the medium term.

“This UMR benefits from UQAT’s leadership in Indigenous Studies but also takes up the philosophy and vision that the DIALOG Network has developed at INRS for more than 20 years in terms of co-construction and mobilization of knowledge by making a place for Indigenous knowledge holders,” recalls INRS professor Carole Lévesque, Director of the DIALOG Network, a member of the INRS-UQAT Joint Research Unit in Indigenous Studies.

“The arrival of the two new professors in the premises and research spaces of the School of Indigenous Studies will promote collaboration as well as the sharing of knowledge and expertise while contributing to the training of a new generation of scientists in the region,” says Hugo Asselin, director of the School of Indigenous Studies at UQAT.