This Week in Canadian Science 2018-05-27

by | May 27, 2018


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“For too long, culture, science and diplomacy have suffered from neglect in Canada. Yes, they share a high-toned reputation, but they have been widely misunderstood — disdained even — by parliamentarians, public servants, scholars, the media, opinion leaders, think tanks and the public.

Rather than looking at them as esoteric outliers in the overall scheme of things, we need to see them for what they are: Undervalued instruments of statecraft. And they should once again be integral to Canada’s contemporary image, reputation and brand.

I argued as much when I testified before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee last December.

Culture, science diplomacy and international policy are the far-flung precincts of our shared national experience, and Canada’s marginalization of them has taken a toll on international relations and Canadian foreign policy.

To understand how, we need to go back to basics:

Culture: It is all-encompassing and amorphous, but not airy-fairy or fuzzy. It is the norms, customs, characteristics, traditions, artistic expression and behaviour of human groups. We learn about it through literature, film, journalism, music, dramatic and documentary television, scholarship, and interpersonal exchange — which I think is key.”



  • Indigenous methods and methodologies are increasingly recognized as valuable tools to improve research practices and outcomes.

  • Ethical guidelines, community-based and partnership approaches, and reflexive allyship are transforming how researchers approach Indigenous health research.

  • When reporting on Indigenous health outcomes, it is crucial to provide context for Indigenous health challenges observed, and highlight strengths, to avoid contributing to stigmatization in wider society.

  • It remains important to reflect critically on our attempts as researchers to act as allies, and to highlight the unique knowledge and skills possessed by Indigenous scholars and community leaders.

Historically, owing to a dominant Western science paradigm, Indigenous methods, methodologies, epistemologies, knowledge and perspectives have been dismissed as unsuitable for health research. As such, Indigenous health research frequently remains poorly aligned with the goals and values of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, research involving Indigenous people has been tainted by historical atrocities. The process of reconciliation in Canada should include the indigenization of health research, which will contribute to deconstruction of colonial control.

Employing the core ethical principles of “respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice” used in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, we review the history of Indigenous health research in Canada and outline critical considerations for non-Indigenous researchers. Our aim is to promote a collaborative approach to Indigenous health research in Canada that prioritizes the goals, knowledge and strengths of Indigenous partners.”


“‘The next Canadian to travel to space is biding his time under quarantine in Kazakhstan, standing by in case something goes wrong to replace an astronaut set to blast off next month, before his own maiden space mission in December.

David Saint-Jacques is serving as a backup to European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, a member of a three-person team gearing to visit the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6. Saint-Jacques and his crew are living in quarantine to avoid germs ahead of the launch.

The Quebec City-native is a medical doctor as well as a PhD in astrophysics. He holds a commercial pilot licence with multi-engine and instrument ratings, and speaks French, English, Spanish, Japanese and basic Russian.”


“Next month, Canada will host the Group of 7 (G7) summit in picturesque Charlevoix, Québec. As leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States come together, along with European Union representatives, to discuss the progressive agenda, science will be on everyone’s mind. With science and technology playing a prominent role in everyday life, access to science education and to science-based careers is ever more essential for inclusive growth and for women’s empowerment.

In addition to the contribution that science makes to economic prosperity, the public is demanding that it also be used to guide decision-making. Scientists and knowledge communities have risen to strengthen their case to policy-makers: Witness the global March for Science last month and the renewed interest in science advice for policy at national and international levels. Nowhere has this trend been more evident than in Canada, where the government has signaled its respect for science-informed policy. This was made clear in some remarkable developments over the past 10 months, including my appointment as the first government chief science adviser in over a decade and a historic science budget for 2018. The Canadian scientific community is generally upbeat and reenergized. Now is the time to ensure that the infrastructure and programs are in place to meet rising expectations and deliver on science promises and potential.”


“Indigenous women’s traditional knowledge is too often excluded from scientific research in the North, something that could have serious implications for fully understanding how climate change is transforming the circumpolar world, said a series of speakers at the  G7 Arctic Sustainability Summit in Montreal on Thursday.

“Indigenous knowledge systems are gendered,” said Deborah McGregor, a professor at Canada’s York University and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, who spoke on the morning panel Accessible, Usable and Timely Science.

“So if (women) aren’t there, and research isn’t focused on this, you’re missing a whole realm of knowledge that could be part of these (policy) decisions and governance.””


“In plain English — in the coming months.”

Bains made the comments after announcing an investment of more than $26.7 million in space technology that will benefit 33 Canadian companies.

The new money will create or secure 397 jobs and support 46 projects to develop what are described as game-changing technologies in medicine, artificial intelligence, autonomous navigation and virtual reality.

“Thanks to the new technologies, we will be able to improve wildfire monitoring, weather predictions and to better understand climate change,” Bains said.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

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