$1.5 million for research on the indigenization of higher education

15 September 2021

Saguenay, 15 September 2021 – The Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC) and Rio Tinto have announced a new partnership to establish an institutional research structure dedicated to the indigenization of higher education. With the Chiefs of the Mashteuiatsh and Uashat mak Mani-Utenam communities present, the partners unveiled the pioneering details of the new research structure.

The proposed research structure will be establish in collaboration with the various Indigenous communities with which UQAC has been building relationships since its founding. The research areas will thus be developed for, by and with these communities, the main goal being to train the next generation of Indigenous scientists. 

The tri-party agreement between UQAC, the UQAC foundation and Rio Tinto provides for a financial contribution of $1.5 million over five years, donated through the Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund. The first year will be spent developing the structure and the related functions and scientific programming by creating space for dialogue and co-construction with Indigenous communities. Phase 2 will begin in 2022 with the establishment of a research and training infrastructure by and with First Peoples, based on the concerns, issues and challenges of each individual community.

One of the main actions planned is the development of a major scholarship programme to encourage students to pursue higher education. Another action involves planning and implementing activities to support engagement, awareness, training and knowledge-dissemination and -transfer for Indigenous communities and other audiences.

“In collaboration with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and local First Nations communities—who are our lead partners—Rio Tinto is proud to contribute to the indigenization of higher education by developing a new generation of Indigenous talent and researchers in all areas of study,” says Sébastien Ross, Managing Director of Quebec Operations for Rio Tinto.

“We are very proud to announce today the result of this project that we have been working on since 2019. Our teams and those of Rio Tinto have rallied together to give us the means to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples, to enable them to establish research environments of their own,” says UQAC Rector Ghislain Samson.

UQAC has been building close ties with Indigenous communities since its founding in 1969. “We recognize the full value of their cultural contribution to the university experience. This project will allow us as an institution to reaffirm our commitment to investing in educational success, Indigenous graduates and community development,” Samson says.

Each year, several hundred Indigenous students register for programmes offered at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. These students mainly originate from the Innu communities of Mashteuiatsh, Essipit, Pessamit and Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, and the Atikamekw communities of Opitciwan, Manawan and Wemotaci, as well as elsewhere in Quebec.


Rio Tinto

Malika Cherry, Advisor, Media Relations – Canada and United States

Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

Marie-Karlynn Laflamme, Director Department of Communications and Public Relations
418-545-5011, ext. 5006

Rio Tinto plc

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Category: Saguenay