The University of Winnipeg



New $1.4 Million Canada Research Chair at UWinnipeg: Giving Aboriginal History a Voice

(from left) UWinnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy, new CRC chair Dr. Jennifer Brown holding a letter of congratulations from Prime Minister Paul Martin, and Hon. Reg Alcock (MP Winnipeg South)

(from left) UWinnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy, new CRC chair Dr. Jennifer Brown holding a letter of congratulations from Prime Minister Paul Martin, and Hon. Reg Alcock (MP Winnipeg South)

The Honourable Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board, Minister Responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, and MP for Winnipeg South, joined University of Winnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy today to announce Dr. Jennifer Brown as the University’s Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Peoples in an Urban and Regional Context.

“The Government of Canada’s support of $1.4M over seven years through the CRC program will enable The University of Winnipeg and Dr. Brown to focus on the work of preserving and sharing Aboriginal traditions and stories, making generations of oral history accessible to the community,” said Minister Alcock. “Understanding this significant piece of our history is critical for Aboriginal peoples locally and nationally, but holds particular importance for western Canada and the Province of Manitoba,” he added.

“The University of Winnipeg is becoming a leader in developing serious intellectual and learning resources on the heritage and history of Aboriginal people,” said Axworthy, who noted Dr. Brown is an outstanding researcher acknowledged by her peers as a world leader in her field. “This new Canada Research Chair on the interdisciplinary study of indigenous peoples, their history, culture, and language will provide us with glimpses of the past and keys to a rich and diverse future—and will be an important link with our new Aboriginal Student Services Centre and Aboriginal Self-Governance programs.” President Axworthy noted this is the University’s third Canada Research Chair.

A seven-year appointment, this Canada Research Chair is unique in its focus on the Aboriginal people, rural and urban, prairie and northern, of the Hudson Bay watershed. Extensive collaborative research centred on oral literature, archival and documentary resources, material culture, and constructed environments old and new will link diverse and largely untapped source materials with a range of scholarly expertise.

“We’re proud that the funding announced today will support research by Canada’s leading scholarly and scientific minds,” said Prime Minister Martin. “From health care, to the environment, to building stronger communities, the work of these Canada Research Chairs will have a direct impact on the lives of Canadians and help position Canada as a world leader in the 21st century economy.”

“This work will deepen and broaden perspectives on the Aboriginal history of the region and its cities,” Brown noted. “The research has a global element, providing comparative materials for the study of other colonized regions and urban centres in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and northern Europe.”

Brown is working extensively with Aboriginal and other scholars and students to help preserve Aboriginal languages and make available oral and documentary sources. Such collaboration, Brown suggested, fosters deeper understandings of the Aboriginal history and peoples of the region. “These are locales where indigenous peoples have played and continue to play major roles.” Key to the University’s mandate is the special responsibility and opportunity it has to make this type of important research accessible to students and the community. “The University of Winnipeg is ideally positioned for this field of research. This Canada Research Chair provides a unique opportunity to link this research with the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, the Manitoba Archives, and the Métis Resource Centre, and other research-oriented neighbours nearby,” said Brown.

Brown, a professor in The University of Winnipeg’s History department, is the author and editor of more than 80 publications on the cultural and social history of northern First Nations and Métis peoples from early fur trade times to the present. She has been the Director of the Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies since 1996, and is past President of the American Society for Ethnohistory. In Spring 2002 she was a British Academy Visiting Professor at Oxford University.

The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, part of an overall Government of Canada plan to encourage Canada’s innovation, promotes leading-edge research and innovation in universities; provides exciting opportunities for Canadian researchers; and, attracts the best research minds in the world to Canadian universities.