May 19, 2009 10:30 ET

Government of Canada Invests in Regional Research Partnership

KENORA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2009) - The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today announced a significant new research project to examine how northern Ontario and First Nations communities are working together in a unique partnership to jointly manage the use of former Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. lands and promote economic development in the region. Through a Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) grant administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), this investment will support numerous university researchers and students, in partnership with community-based organizations.

"Our government recognizes the importance of involving the community directly in research results, through partnerships like the Community-University Research Alliances," said Minister of State Goodyear. "Social sciences and humanities research plays a valuable role in advancing innovation and competitiveness, fostering job creation, and building a diversified, resilient economy over the long term. That's why Canada's Economic Action Plan includes a $5.1-billion investment in science and technology initiatives."

Among SSHRC's largest grants, the CURA will provide $1 million over six years to form the Common Ground Research Forum (CGRF). The CGRF partnership will include stakeholders (the City of Kenora, Grand Council Treaty #3, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, among others) in the handover of several parcels of heritage land to northern Ontario communities by Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., one of the world's largest producers of newsprint and groundwood paper.

Over the grant's six years, the CGRF will study how the parties work together to share natural resources and build sustainable local and regional economies, generating social capital and enabling communities to undertake innovative and proactive regional planning and development. The result will be an advanced model for collaboration, recommendations for policy and legal reforms, curricula and pilot projects, and a group of students and community members highly trained in research, negotiation and sustainable community planning.

"This superb research initiative illustrates how social sciences and humanities research can have a direct impact on Canadian society, through community-university partnerships," said Chad Gaffield, President of SSHRC. "SSHRC is committed to enhancing the quality of, and support for, research and research training in the social sciences and humanities through world-class peer-review processes. The CURA program funds leading-edge collaborations that help us understand and foster collaboration between universities and local communities across a wide range of disciplines."

The social sciences and humanities community continues to be Canada's largest research community, consisting of some 22,000 faculty members and well over 50,000 graduate students. All grant applications are adjudicated by a rigorous peer-review process, according to the highest international standards.

The CURA program supports research projects that promote the sharing of knowledge, resources and expertise between post-secondary institutions and organizations in the community, reinforcing community decision-making and problem-solving capacity; and that enhance students' education and employability by means of diverse opportunities to build their knowledge, expertise and work skills through hands-on research and related experience.

Note to editors: SSHRC is an independent federal government agency that funds university-based research and graduate training through national peer-review competitions. SSHRC also partners with public- and private-sector organizations to focus research and aid the development of better policies and practices in key areas of Canada's social, cultural and economic life.

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