The Inuit Research Advisors speak to their experiences with getting Northerners involved in the NCP and its research.
Transcript: Inuit Research Advisor
I think the IRA position is really important in the North because it really is the first time in Canada that it has given Inuit a real voice in how research is conducted in their regions.
My name is Shannon O’hara and I am the the Inuit Research Advisor for Inuivaluit Regional Corporation in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I conduct my own projects under the education Communications blueprint. I also act as the liaison for researchers and our communities in terms of communicating about contaminants research.
I’m Carla Pamak, I’m the Inuit Research Advisor for Nunatsiavut Governent in Nain, Labrador. As part of my work I do a lot of work with researchers. I am the first point of contact for all research coming to Nunatsiavut, so I meet a lot of researchers and I can connect them with communities or individuals within the communities to help them get the best possible outcome for their research. Or vice versa, I can get communities connected with researchers, where they are wanting research to happen within their communities.
My name is Romani Makkik, I am the Inuit Research Advisor at the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated – NTI, with the Social and Cultural Development Department. We review projects that are funded by the NCP and we provide input on projects that are being proposed in our region. I’m also a member of the Nunavut Environmental Contaminants Committee so we review projects under that, under that program as well.
Hi I’m Betsy Palliser, I’m Inuit Research Advisor for Nunavik. As Inuit Research Advisor I sit on the committee of Nunavik Nutrition and Health Committee. We review the proposals and reports done by researchers.
I think the importance of the position is being able to provide communities with up to date information on research, but also get them involved at the grassroots level so they can actually conduct their own research, access training, build their capacity in their communities, and really become the researcher to do community based research.
The NCP is a long-standing program in my region. We’ve been working for the NCP just as long as the NCP program has been around and it really helps us to be able to make informed choices about the country foods that we’re eating to ensure that we are, that our country foods are still safe to eat.
Incorporating Inuit Traditional Knowledge into research is an important aspect of proposed projects because it gives a voice to Inuit in the region and it includes the knowledge that is already part of the foundation within the region, so I think, you know, integrating western research with the knowledge that is already used within the region.
Since the IRA position has come on board our communities are a lot more positive toward the research community because they see a local person who is involved with research. They will trust a lot more to become a part of research. I guess through this position they’ve seen a lot more how they can benefit from the research that’s happening.
I have a chance, you know, to bridge that gap between community members and the researchers.
This research affects our people as much as the researcher wants the results, so we want them to know that they can work with us to get the best possible outcomes for their research and for our communities as well.
I just have to say that the position is definitely important to me because the work that we’re doing will impact the next generation after me such as my children or even some of the elders that are living in our region today. So the information is really useful for all the people living in our region including myself and my family.
Shannon O’Hara (Inuvialuit Settlement Region), Romani Makkik (Nunavut), Betsy Palliser (Nunavik) and Carla Pamak (Nunatsiavut) are the Inuit Research Advisors for their respective regions. In these positions, they serve as a point of contact and liaison on research-related matters for both researchers and community members. Shannon was born and raised in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and graduated from the Aurora College’s Environment & Natural Resources Technology Program. She works for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and has been involved with the NCP since the mid-2000's. Romani grew up in Igloolik, Nunavut and works for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated in Iqaluit. She is also the Chair of the Nunavut Environmental Contaminants Committee. Betsy works for the Kativik Regional Government, based in Kuujjuaq. She is an integral member of the Nunavik Nutrition and Health Committee. Carla works for the Nunatsiavut Government, based out of Nain. She also helps coordinate the new research center/community freezer program in Nain.
For more stories like this, visit Women in Science.