Overview

Students from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, , and The School of Industrial Design, and Neuroscience department are working together with the Inuit community of Igloolik NU, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun community of Mayo YT, and the Haida community of Masset BC to co-create solutions that build on existing social, economic and wellness development initiatives within the communities. The interdisciplinary projects focus on leveraging knowledge within the communities with the business, design, and scientific expertise of students at Carleton to focus on inititatives involving housing, food sovereignty and security, youth and community engagement, and mental health and wellness.

The Background

The goal of this project is to nurture collaboration and partnership between students at Carleton University and Inuit and Northern Indigenous communities. Through the promotion of two-way dialogue and participatory research methods, the project strengthens cross-cultural relationships and enables students and participating community members to develop community-based, culturally appropriate solutions to challenges determined by the community.

The Rollout

With the onset of COVID-19, it is impossible for us to make a field trip to our partner locations as we normally do in the context of these projects. Because it is imperative that we communicate on a continual basis with community members, we are raising funds to purchase tablets and software to be used by both students and community members in the ideation and design process. This software will enable real-time, data-rich communication capability that will ensure that the both the process and outcomes of project are carried out in a real and equal partnership with communities. The technology will remain available for use by the next student cohort.

The Impact

This project is a way for students to connect with communities and aim for real impact in a time when face-to-face design activities and site visits have become impossible. It will allow them to take advantage of current technology to improve the effectiveness of the geographically and culturally diverse team context in which they are working this year. In will allow them to broaden their perspectives, test their assumptions, and learn in an active way by engaging with real communities.

This project provides students and collaborating communities with a unique opportunity to work together in a partnership context. Partners are engaging in meaningful human-centered design processes and sustainable planning based on open communication and mutual respect. We aim to make this a perennial, permanent project through working together to build our relationships with communities and amplify our collective strengths. This project can serve as a framework for ethical working relationships between academic institutions and Indigenous communities and work towards building trust within these partnerships. With its emphasis on collective benefit, the project will also serve as a test laboratory and model for universities and other institutions to use in the formation of partnership initiatives.

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