SMU Researcher Part of New Federally Funded Global Indigenous Health and Biodiversity Project
Biodiversity decline. Reconciliation and the empowerment of Indigenous peoples. Both are prominent themes in Canada and around the world. These two important themes come together in Ărramăt, a newly launched Canadian-based project, and led by Indigenous peoples, in response to the global biodiversity and health crisis.
Funded for 2021-2027 by Canada’s New Frontiers Research Fund Transformations Program, Ărramăt involves over 150 Indigenous organizations, universities, and other partners – including Saint Mary’s University’s Dr. Tony Charles – who will work together to highlight ways to counter biodiversity loss and address its implications for health and well-being.
The project will be inclusive of many worldviews and methods for research in its activities across 70 different kinds of ecosystems that are spiritually, culturally, and economically important to Indigenous Peoples.
As one of the project leaders, Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, notes: “The Ărramăt Project is about respecting the inherent dignity and interconnectedness of peoples and Mother Earth, life and livelihood, identity and expression, biodiversity and sustainability, and stewardship and well-being.”
The participants, knowledges, and interdisciplinary expertise in the project will address 150 different activities, with over half of the $24 million research budget going directly to Indigenous governments and organizations. They will lead their own work in ways that respect, protect, and elevate Indigenous knowledge and ways of life. Key topics include how food security can be secured for Indigenous Peoples, how Indigenous-led approaches to conservation can support wild species and agrobiodiversity, and how to engage in best practices for decolonizing education and science.
Dr. Tony Charles emphasizes that having the project led by Indigenous scholars and communities is a crucial element.
“Biodiversity conservation is a key issue around the world, and one we’ve seen can be tackled effectively through Indigenous approaches,” says Dr. Charles. “That’s a message of the Community Conservation Research Network, based at Saint Mary’s, and one that is bound to be fundamental to the new Ărramăt Project.”
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