Indigenous and Western Science: Gathering New Knowledge through Co-designed Research

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 2nd 2017

Organized by: Jennifer Sokol, Polar Knowledge Canada

Speakers: Jean-Sébastien Moore, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Université Laval; Marie-Eve Neron, Director of Climate Change and Clean Energy, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Angela Nuliayok Rudolph, Master's Student, Arctic and Northern Studies program, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Moderator: David J. Scott, President and CEO, Polar Knowledge Canada

Takeaways and recommendations: 
  • Integrating indigenous knowledge into a scientific program can play a major role in its success:

    • The Arctic Char Traditional Knowledge Study used indigenous knowledge to successfully determine the path of migrating fish.

    • The elder-youth knowledge exchange camp (part of the research program supported the community’s exchange of information from the elders to the youth) helped the community participate in and inform the research.

  • Incentives and training should be improved to support scientists in involving indigenous communities in research programs.

  • Scientists need to better understand the power of the relationship between the communities and the resources they depend on – those resources are the reason why communities were established in those places.

  • People want to define indigenous knowledge and how they can use it, but a simple definition is hard to come by.

  • Indigenous traditional knowledge is unique to each community.

  • Direct translations can lead to inadequate interpretations of indigenous language and terms.

  • To use indigenous knowledge in research programs, trust must be established and youth and elders should be engaged: this is a way for youth to be valued and for elders to transmit information, which helps to strength communities.

  • A paradigm shift is needed: the best results occur when communities identify their needs and partner with scientists to find answers.