Atlantic universities come together at StFX to renew research agreement with Aboriginal communities on economic development
November 8, 2016
StFX today hosted the renewal of the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program (AAEDIRP), delivered through a partnership of Atlantic Canadian universities and the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs.
“It was a pleasure to host this important signing of this MOU that will not only deliver sound research into Aboriginal economic development opportunities but it also strengthens the relationship between Indigenous communities and universities,” said StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald at the Nov. 8 ceremony in Desmond Hall.
Dr. MacDonald, who spoke on behalf of Atlantic university colleagues, said they are extremely proud to continue this relationship. It’s a wonderful example of how collaboration can foster greater economic prosperity and improve cultural understanding, he said.
Research representatives from Atlantic Canada universities were on hand to renew this important agreement that will continue to improve knowledge of Aboriginal economic development opportunities. The Honourable Sean Fraser, MP for Central Nova, also joined the signing on behalf of the federal government.
Five years ago the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and 12 universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the AAEDIRP research program. Now, the universities and the Atlantic Policy Congress have renewed the MOU that will continue to assist in providing Atlantic Canada’s First Nations with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to secure a brighter, more prosperous future for their people and their communities.
A special guest at the ceremony was Senator Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission who was at StFX to deliver a keynote address that evening.
“The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat is renewing our relationship with our university partners at a time when all Canadian institutions, including universities, are working to address the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said John Paul, Executive Director of AAEDIRP.
“We are now more aware than ever of the legacy of Canada’s colonial history and of the opportunities in our present social and political environments that have opened up to build just and meaningful relationships between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Research and education are powerful tools that can advance understanding of reconciliation.”
Universities can play a key role in building bridges between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to address present inequities that, together, we must address, added Mr. Paul. “The renewal of our partnership, through the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, is an important step in building bridges here in the Atlantic region. Together, we will work to advance awareness and understanding of reconciliation; and provide knowledge to support strategic policies and programs that will improve the lives of Atlantic Aboriginal peoples.”
“Atlantic Canada’s universities are committed to Universities Canada’s Principles on Indigenous education, some of which align exceptionally well with the intentions of the MOU, such as: continuing to listen and collaborate with Indigenous communities; building on successful experiences and initiatives already in place and recognizing the importance of fostering the importance of intercultural engagement among Indigenous and non-Indigenous research communities and scholars,” Peter Halpin, Executive Director of Association of Atlantic Universities, said in a statement.
Speakers at the afternoon event included StFX faculty member and CRC of Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Communities, Dr. L. Jane McMillan; Chief Bob Gloade of Millbrook First Nation; and Chief Stephen Augustine, a hereditary Mi’kmaq chief and Dean, Unama’ki College & Aboriginal Learning, Unama’ki College at Cape Breton University.
The MOU also offers a Professional Development Training initiative that provides Atlantic Aboriginal economic development officers with the skills needed to address the unique challenges of Aboriginal communities and businesses in Atlantic Canada.
The AAEDIRP is a unique research program formed through partnerships between the 38 member communities of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs (APCFNC), plus the Inuit, 12 Atlantic universities and four government funders, both federal and provincial. The APCFNC is a policy research organization that analyzes and develops culturally relevant alternatives to federal policies that impact on the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Innu Aboriginal communities and peoples. The AAEDIRP funders include Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, (INAC) the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, (ACOA) the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Aboriginal Affairs, Nova Scotia.