Welcome to the Indigenous Research Network (IRN), an Institutional Strategic Initiative at the University of Toronto.
European models of research have excluded Indigenous researchers from academia, including by refusing to acknowledge Indigenous knowledge creation practices as research. Extractive research practices have reduced Indigenous Peoples to mere subjects, alienating communities from knowledge purportedly about them.
In response to these and other harms to Indigenous Peoples, “Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin—Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada” calls on U of T to change, “to be deserving of Indigenous students and to be in right relationship with Indigenous people.” Among the many recommendations, the report called for the University to formalize networks of Indigenous scholars; to mobilize Indigenous faculty and staff as a collective; to create opportunities for Indigenous scholars to collaborate and engage with Indigenous communities in respectful and culturally sensitive ways; and to recognize and support the distinctive nature of Indigenous research and research practices. The Indigenous Research Network was established to implement these and other recommendations.
Led by Professor Dale Turner, the Indigenous Research Network (IRN) at the University of Toronto aims to lead the transformation of academic practices in Canada by cultivating local, national and international networks of Indigenous researchers and scholars working with Indigenous Peoples. It will support Indigenous research projects at U of T, help Indigenous researchers secure grants, provide training in Indigenous research practices, and help to institute a new set of norms for working respectfully with Indigenous communities.
Now is the time to restore respectful relations between academia and Indigenous communities, make universities more welcoming for Indigenous scholars, and create a place for Indigenous ways of knowing the world in higher education in Canada and around the world. As the IRN works toward these goals, it will also give a prominent place for Indigenous perspectives on how to address some of the greatest challenges we face, from issues in social justice to climate change and more.
In July of 2022, Professor Dale Turner was appointed to a three-year term as the Academic Advisor of Indigenous Research to the Provost. Under the umbrella of Indigenous Research, he also serves as the director of the Indigenous Research Network. Professor Turner will also work closely with Shannon Simpson, Director of Indigenous Initiatives, and with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.
Professor Turner is a citizen of the Temagami First Nation in northern Ontario. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Centre for Indigenous Studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science. His research interests include Indigenous politics, contemporary Indigenous intellectual culture, contemporary political theory, and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Sandi Wemigwase also joined the Indigenous Research Network team in July of 2022 and serves as the Special Projects Officer, Indigenous Research. As the IRN team lead, she is responsible for managing projects, developing processes, and organizing consultations. Sandi is an enrolled member of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Waganakising Odawa) located in northern Michigan. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her research involves finding Indigenous methods to identify Indigenous students at universities at the point of admission. Throughout her studies, Sandi has been an active member of the academic community at U of T, including the Indigenous Education Network, Anishinaabe/Onkwehonwe Student Collective, First Nations House Director’s Advisory Board, NAISA2020 planning committee, and Supporting Aboriginal Graduate Experience.