Representatives of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and Ottawa’s Carleton University signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on research projects.
“We need research to show us the best way to take advantage of the good parts of the white man way while at the same time keeping the best parts of our Indian way,” Chief Simon Mervyn said during Wednesday’s live-streamed event.
“We are very often approached by professors who want to do some research. We haven’t been very friendly so far but now that we understand a little better, we are changing.”
He said conditions include the First Nation in Mayo, Yukon, deciding what needs to be researched, along with who does the research.
“We can tell the difference between someone who wants to do the job for us or someone who wants to do the job for themselves or for some outside interest,” Mervyn said.
All research projects have to include members of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, so that they develop the skills to allow the First Nation to do its own research, he said. The research also has to belong to Na-Cho Nyäk Dun.
Some of the desired research topics include environment, justice, and educational issues.
Several projects have already been completed in collaboration with the university.
“Our relationship with Carleton University and with the 40 years of history we share with [a professor there] is changing our views of Ottawa. We finally have a partner who is willing to meet us where we are at,” Mervyn said.
According to university president Benoit-Antoine Bacon, the memorandum of understanding has a seven-year term.
“It is my expectation that we will renew [the memorandum],” he said.