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How to promote self-delete ;termination of Inuit in scientific research?

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The ArcticNet research network is holding its 19th annual conference in Iqaluit until Thursday.

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Gathered in Iqaluit at the 19th ArcticNet scientific meeting, Nunavut researchers who have undertaken graduate studies in southern Canada say more needs to be done to encourage and support Inuit in the research community.

They believe that self-determination of the Inuit in this sector requires the creation of a university in an Inuit region of the Canadian Arctic. p>

Organized until Thursday, the scientific meeting is the first of the research network in Inuit Nunangat, which brings together the four Inuit regions in the north of the country. It opened Monday with a round table focusing on the experience of four Inuit researchers in academia.

Several panelists said they were not predestined for a scientific career, in particular because this avenue had not really been presented to them.

This is the case of Jessica Penney, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto who is interested in the correlations between the environment and the health of Inuit.

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It took me many years to understand what research is, says the researcher from Nunatsiavut, in northern Labrador .

Jessica Penney does not regret having taken this professional path, although she affirms that the underrepresentation of Inuit in the research community remains even an issue.

“Whatever the field, it can be difficult to be the only Inuk in the room,” she says . It’s a challenge to have to represent your [people].

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Jessica Penney is a postdoctoral fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.

During the round table, several panelists also affirmed that it was sometimes complex to navigate in a historically colonial environment that values ​​Western science.

It's something we have to deal with, says Joshua Komangapik, a master's environmental student at Royal Roads University in Victoria, in British Columbia, and protected areas specialist for the Canadian Wildlife Service.

I really try to draw on indigenous scholars and postcolonial literature in my work .

A quote from Joshua Komangapik, Masters student at Royal Roads University

Joshua Komangapik, however, notes major breakthroughs in reconciliation in the academic sector: Through my master's degree, I see that there is a significant change in the way courses give space to Indigenous voices.

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“I try to include Inuit or Indigenous perspectives as much as possible,” says Joshua Komangapik, a Nunavut master’s student at Royal Roads University in Victoria.

With the exception of Yukon University, all Canadian universities are located in the south of the country. Jessica Penney says it is, most of the time, inevitable to leave the North to pursue a career in academic research; a reality that was imposed on her several years ago.

This is why she believes that a first university in Inuit Nunangat would make this area more accessible to Inuit.

This is where real change will come and self-determination in the research sector.

A quote from Jessica Penney, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto

Jessica Penney also believes that more needs to be done to encourage young people to consider a scientific career. She cites the example of workshops in secondary schools or the teaching of basic research principles.

Exposing young people more [.. .] can really help them recognize themselves in research, she maintains.

These words particularly resonate with Tessa Armstrong, a Grade 10 student at Inuksuk Secondary School in Iqaluit who attended the science meeting with her class.

Science has always intrigued me, but now that I attended [this meeting] I am even more interested, explains the 15-year-old student. years. It motivated me to do the best I could with the resources I have.

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Tessa Armstrong, 15, attended the science meeting with other students in her class on Monday. Speakers included her aunt, researcher Ceporah Mearns, whom she considers a role model.

The student would like researchers to come occasionally give presentations at her school to popularize their work.

Tessa Armstrong still doesn't know in which academic field she will pursue her studies, but she is already brimming with ambition : As a young Inuk, I would like to become an inspiration to my people.

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