Val-d’Or, March 7, 2017 – Professor Suzy Basile of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) will be leading a new and unprecedented research initiative with the implementation of a Research Laboratory on Indigenous Women Issues – Akwatisiw. This initiative, in the wake of the creation of UQAT’s School of Indigenous Studies last June, was announced during the Forum on the Research Needs of First Peoples where some 60 Aboriginal representatives and researchers are gathered to discuss this important issue.
In Québec, there currently exists a significant research gap regarding Indigenous women issues, notably concerning their land-related practices, their perspectives on governance, and the history and nature of their relations to the territory. In response to a need expressed by Indigenous milieus to have more research projects addressing Indigenous women issues, this laboratory pursues many objectives: 1) to develop an inventory of research reports, in all disciplines, produced in Québec on Indigenous women; 2) to identify relevant research subjects regarding the specific issues of Indigenous women in Quebec; 3) to update the existing guidelines in order to conduct research projects that meet the needs and respect the ethical principles expressed by Indigenous women; 4) to analyse certain government programs applying to Indigenous context and their adequacy with respect to Indigenous women’s needs; 5) to examine the role of Indigenous women in territorial governance and consultation processes; 6) to implement an Indigenous women environmental network; and 7) to promote ethical and respectful research by, for and with Indigenous women. “Indigenous women’s specific knowledge have long been ignored and neglected, their history rarely documented and their views and rights often trampled. I hope to see this trend reversed through research work that is significant for Indigenous women and through the academic sphere’s continuous openness to Indigenous and women issues”, professor Basile stresses.
An innovative laboratory supported by many partners
Delighted by this initiative, many organizations decided to partner with the Akwatisiw Laboratory. So far, the Quebec Native Women’s Association, the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association, the Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik, the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute, the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission, the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec (Quebec Friendship Centres Association), the DIALOG Network and the Institut nordique du Québec have confirmed their participation. Furthermore, over 10 researchers from different Quebec and Canadian universities have confirmed their interest to take part in the laboratory’s research activities as partners.
The Akwatisiw Laboratory’s scientific programming will allow researchers, students and involved organizations to work according to a participatory and collaborative approach that respects Indigenous practices. Many activities are already planned for 2017-2018. The implementation of the laboratory also responds to certain recommendations stated in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
In the Atikamekw language, Akwatisiw refers to a strong and alert person who stands up, a land keeper and protector.
About Suzy Basile
An expert in Indigenous women issues, anthropologist Suzy Basile holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, is a professor at UQAT’s School of Indigenous Studies and the director of the Research Laboratory on Indigenous Women Issues - Akwatisiw. Professor Basile is of Atikamekw origin and a member of various Indigenous organizations and research networks.
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