University of Manitoba, Lakehead University and University College of the North Partner on Project to Support Indigenous Students in Post-Secondary Science Research, Training and Mentorship

April 18, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont. 

Today, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced an investment of $1.65 million to build a six-year program that will train and mentor the next generation of Indigenous science researchers working in the north.

University of Manitoba Principal Investigator, Professor Stéphane McLachlan, is partnering with academic experts at Lakehead University and University College of the North to develop and operate a program aimed at providing Indigenous students more opportunities for experiential learning in science research and the workforce.

The program goal is to address the severe under-representation of Indigenous trainees and cultures in the natural sciences and engineering fields with mentorship in research and employment skills.

It will also fund cultural supports for Indigenous trainees to conduct environmental research through both traditional Indigenous ways of knowing and western science. At the same time, it will encourage cross-cultural understanding for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students interested in community-led environmental research. Lastly, the program will provide work-study training opportunities in collaboration with private, public and non-profit partners to connect Indigenous students with potential employers.

Funding for this initiative is provided through a federal government NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grant. It supports the development of innovative training programs to address Canada’s research priorities and transition new researchers and trainees into the workforce.


“This program will provide meaningful supports for Indigenous students interested in pursuing research in natural sciences while fostering employment opportunities in the north. We are pleased to host this project here at UM as it aligns with our key institutional priorities of creating pathways to Indigenous achievement and driving discovery and insight through excellence in research.” – Dr. Mario Pinto, Vice-President, Research and International, University of Manitoba

“Our intent is to recognize and affirm the many existing strengths of Indigenous students interested in environmental and community-led research in ways that are simultaneously grounded in both western and Indigenous science. This will occur on campus but also by building an effective network of support in collaboration with potential employers from government, community, business, and not-for-profit organizations.” - Professor Stéphane McLauchlan, Principal Investigator, University of Manitoba

“Lakehead University is thrilled to be collaborating with Indigenous communities, private sectors and other post-secondary institutions in the Indigenous CREATE; Mentoring and Training the Next Generation of Environmental Researchers Working in the Indigenous North project. Our relationship with the environment is central to our belief system as Indigenous peoples. This grant will provide opportunities to collaborate and create meaningful and culturally grounded experiences for Indigenous youth and post-secondary students as they attain skills in the environmental technology fields.” - Denise Baxter, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Initiatives, Lakehead University

“This funding helps to build on two-eyed seeing approaches and indigenous-led research across the prairie provinces and Ontario, with an emphasis on Indigenous training opportunities. This work builds off existing relationships across this region between First Nations and participating institutions, and helping to found new lines of investigations aimed at bringing together community-based monitoring with traditional knowledge to inform environmental policies that explicitly address information and needs of communities that have relied on these resources long before European settlement.” – Dr. Michael Rennie, Associate Professor, Biology, Lakehead University, and Canada Research Chair in Freshwater and Fisheries

“This ground-breaking initiative will empower Indigenous students to pursue their passion for science and engineering. It also bridges the gap between traditional Indigenous knowledge and Western science. By fostering cross-cultural understanding, providing valuable mentorship, and connecting students with future employers, we ensure a brighter and more inclusive future for Canada's research landscape and workforce.” - Dr. Ramona Neckoway, Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation, University College of the North 

“I think it is time that we started developing our own experts, to train our own professionals that can monitor these environmental changes for us. To go into school and encourage kids to go into the environmental sciences. This project is an opportunity to work with postsecondary and allies to establish some form of training programmes. And to work with youth who are familiar with our own culture and the land. And who have the ability to speak their own language and to work with our Elders.” - Dave Swanson, Band Councillor, Norway House Cree Nation and retired Superintendent, Frontier School Division

“Since time immemorial, the Matawa member First Nations have taken care of the lands and waters within their traditional territories and ancestral homelands. There have been limited opportunities for Indigenous peoples to lead western science research projects that place the values, priorities and Traditional Knowledge of our communities at the forefront. This exciting partnership expands on our network of research partners across Canada, both in academia and in fellow Nations, as we work together to build capacity in our youth and inspire the next generation of science and environmental professionals for the betterment of all.” - David Paul Achneepineskum, Chief Executive Officer, Matawa First Nations




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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit