New Inuit Research Network aims to support self determination in research

OTTAWA — The federal government and an organization representing Inuit in Canada have announced $6.4 million in funding to establish an Inuit Research Network.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said the funding will help Inuit define research priorities and support self-determination and Inuit-led solutions to the unique issues and challenges they face.

“We are not looking for a completely separate approach to research,” Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed said at a news conference Wednesday. “We are working with institutions, we are providing an Inuit-specific lens to the work we do.”

The funding comes from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and will go to the four Inuit regions in Canada and their respective land claims organizations.

Federal Health Minister Jean Yves-Duclos said the research network will help improve Inuit health and well-being.

“Communities are close-knit and they are dedicated and committed to take care of one another,” he said.

“Inuit are indeed active members of their communities and are already doing much of the work in caring for their families and neighbours, and, therefore, much of the work leading to better health and wellness.”

Obed said the funding “will help in a number of ways that perhaps we can’t even imagine at the moment.”

He pointed to a national Inuit health survey underway, saying the information could provide a better understanding of health outcomes to help identify priorities.

“Having a network and having capacity across Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit homeland) will allow for Inuit to make better use of existing funds and will also allow for opportunities and partnerships that perhaps are not possible today.”

Obed said, traditionally, Inuit representatives have not been eligible for research funding. He said Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s national Inuit strategy on research, which was released in 2018, is aiming to change that.

It provides guidance for respectful and beneficial research for all Inuit.

Obed said the organization has long worked with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on issues such as tuberculosis. The rate of tuberculosis among Inuit in Nunavut is more than 300 times higher than Canada’s non-Indigenous population.

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