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April 8, 2004
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Newest Canada Research Chair
Focus on aboriginal rights


Dr. David Natcher
Dr. David Natcher

Dr. David Natcher was appointed Memorial University’s Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at an announcement made April 5 by Lucienne Robillard, federal minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. Some $138.3 million in funding was approved for 137 new Canada Research Chairs. At a special ceremony at the University of Calgary, Ms. Robillard praised the contributions of university researchers and emphasized the importance of their work for Canada and its performance internationally.

The conflict between aboriginal rights and industrial resource development remains at the forefront of national attention in Canada and serves as a point of ongoing political interpretation and debate. This issue is particularly poignant in Newfoundland and Labrador where the exploitation of natural resources – fisheries, minerals, forestry, and oil/gas – remains integral to the socio-economic viability of the provincial economy.

In his research, Dr. Natcher will be exploring alternative models of community development that take into account not only the region’s commercial development versus the subsistence needs of its aboriginal peoples, but also other human factors such as aboriginal health, nutritional status, educational achievement, access to desired resources, and aboriginal rights. His work will involve policy analysis as well as ethnographic and community-based research and his research findings will be used to inform public policy, and promote efficiency in the use of public resources. Given the economic necessities of resource development, coupled with the ever-changing political landscape of aboriginal rights, Dr. Natcher’s research will provide a critical and informed analysis of these two areas of public concern.

“By promoting collaborations with new and existing partners, both internal and external to the university, Dr. Natcher will further Memorial’s research capacity in cultural ecology and aboriginal studies in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research). “His direct involvement with the Labrador Institute will strengthen and enhance the important connections that exist among aboriginal communities, the institute, and academic units housed at the university.”

Dr. Natcher hopes that the research will lead to an improvement of the socio-economic and cultural development of aboriginal peoples in Newfoundland and Labrador and that his findings will help the province and the region manage its vast natural resources in an ethically sound and environmentally sustainable fashion without compromising the interests and fundamental rights of aboriginal peoples.


 


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Next issue: April 29, 2004

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