LETHBRIDGE: The University of Lethbridge is another step closer to opening a new urban aboriginal research centre. The school held a symposium on the topic Thursday and wants to have the centre set up by April 2012. It would fall under the umbrella of a network of similar centres established in Canada over the past four years.
"We work in collaboration with academia, with government and also aboriginal communities to conduct our research. So it's very collaborative and less of a monarchy where researchers are doing the work and saying this is how it goes," said Heather King-Andrews, the Research Officer for the National Association of Friendship Centres.
Bev Jacobs, the past president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, spoke at the symposium Thursday. She was one of many who raised concerns about whether or not the centre's research could positively impact indigenous people's day-to-day lives.
"I heard some concerns about trust and people feeling like they're being researched to death - with little action," said Jacobs. "So it's really important that the community feel it is a partner."
Yale Belanger, a researcher with the U of L's Native American Studies program, is one of the main drivers behind the centre. He said input like this from local aboriginal people is a "crucial" part of creating a research framework, one that ensures the research they do leads to positive change. An example he gave of how it could help is that statistical data collected by the centre could prove the need for certain aid programs.