Deborah McGregor is the Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Environmental Justice and a member of faculty at the Environmental and Urban Change at Osgoode Law School. For the past two years, Dr. McGregor and her team have been working towards establishing York’s new Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages (CIKL).
The recently launched Centre was established to provide and support research that benefits and incorporates Indigenous communities. Dr. McGregor serves as its inaugural director, and Faculty of Health Assistant Professor Sean Hillier, York research chair in Indigenous Health Policy & One Health, is the Centre’s assistant director.
“Having dedicated Indigenous research resources and space, as offered by the new CIKL, which is run by and for Indigenous peoples on campus, is a critical first step,” stated Hillier in a post by York Media Relations. “This Centre will assist York in becoming a research-intensive institution and serves the principles of the Indigenous Framework and University Academic Plan.”
McGregor stated that CIKL will “foster collaborations and partnerships with Indigenous peoples and others that create ethical space for dialogue on how research relationships can be envisioned, negotiated and practised in support of Indigenous futurities.”
McGregor also says that one of the Centre’s goals is to “raise visibility to the research people do and their research skills, whether they’re faculty or students, so Indigenous communities can have a sense of what people are doing and whether there is research or interest that people have that they want to be involved in.”
Although the Centre is focused on Indigenous research, its goal is to use the research and apply it to many world issues faced by all individuals, such as the climate crisis.
Dr. McGregor says the Centre wants to “highlight the role of Indigenous knowledge, legal traditions, and language in helping to address problems that all of humanity is facing.”
The Centre will try to take advantage of how social media spreads information almost instantaneously to promote its research and bring awareness to the research it is conducting.
“I think universities have obligations beyond the boundaries to make sure whatever kind of knowledge being generated gets out to the public and that the education we are trying to deliver is accessible,” McGregor says.
Dr. McGregor’s own research project’s website, dedicated to research on environmental justice, illustrates the effect social media has. “I get emails from people all over the world,” she states.
The Centre, and its many goals, has the ability to provide the general public with answers to questions about the Indigenous community and why it is important that awareness is brought to the issues surrounding these communities. And as Dr. McGregor said, “it’s a tall order, but you have to start somewhere.”