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Visioning a new research institute

First stage of an inclusive process to explore the development of an Indigenous Research Institute at McMaster brings together Indigenous and non-indigenous researchers, academics, and regional community and organizational stakeholders.


November 20, 2015
Danelle D’Alvise, Research Communications

McMaster is taking its first step on a collaborative path forward to create an Institute for Indigenous Research.

A diverse group ranging from Six Nations Elders, Indigenous scholars, researchers, administrators, as well as representatives from granting councils,  students and community members, gathered to provide their input for the initial phase of developing a vision for the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute (MIRI).  

“Our goal was to not only bring together the many partners who share an interest in establishing the Institute, but to also provide a forum to exchange ideas and envisage what MIRI should be,” Bernice Downey explains.

Downey, a medical anthropologist, organized the visioning session in collaboration with the Indigenous Research Advisory Group, and developed an agenda where the voices, insights and knowledge of the University community and Indigenous communities could be heard and considered.

The afternoon began and ended with traditional prayer offered by Elder, Renee Thomas-Hill, and featured presentations on water teachings and an overview of the history of McMaster’s Indigenous Studies Program by Rick Monture and Dawn Martin-Hill, professors in the program.

A keynote address by Malcolm King, the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (a member of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, and a third generation McMaster graduate) was followed by an update from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) representative, Craig McNaughton, special advisor to SSHRC’s vice-president, Research Programs.

As part of the visioning process for MIRI, the attendees participated in group discussions and brainstorming exercises that focussed on generating future research ideas and creating a list of key stakeholders.

Moving forward, a broader level of engagement is planned to include representation from across the variety of sectors that will comprise MIRI’s stakeholders.

“We see great potential for an Indigenous research institute at McMaster – there is a need to learn more about Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous research methods,” says Allison Sekuler, Interim Vice-President, Research.

“We also need to consult and support the research priorities of our community partners, as well as those who wish to collaborate with Indigenous partners. The proposed McMaster Indigenous Research Institute provides an opportunity to educate and build awareness regarding the socio-historical context of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across all sectors of the academy.”

Sekuler noted that while establishing the proposed institute is timely, given this year’s release of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, McMaster will be building on a long history of work led by its Indigenous scholars and more than 20 years of relationship building between the University and the Indigenous communities in our region.

If you would like to learn more about the proposed McMaster Indigenous Research Institute, you can read the FAQ here. For more information, contact Bernice Downey downebe@mcmaster.ca