Researchers have been coming to Nunatsiavut for many years, but this is the first time the Labrador Inuit have entered into such a comprehensive and inclusive research partnership. The Tradition & Transition Research Partnership undertakes research that is both by and with the Labrador Inuit. The partnership looks to formalize a model of inclusive Indigenous research that not only greatly expands knowledge but also enriches communities.
In 2014, Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut Government signed a memorandum of understanding to develop research opportunities in Nunatsiavut. The university also committed to promoting public education within and about Nunatsiavut, and to help Nunatsiavut in the development of its own research capacity, social policy development, and cultural management.
The Nunatsiavut Government Research Advisory Committee, under the Nunatsiavut Government's research office, approves all proposals for research in Nunatsiavut or involving Nunatsiavummiut.
There are currently over 30 research projects launched under Tradition & Transition, with more being developed to address the ongoing needs of the partnership and the people committed to its success. All research under the partnership reflects on one or more of these central themes:
The Landscape of Culture: This research theme examines the intimate relationship over time between Inuit and their environment through archaeology, cultural geography, geology, and traditional knowledge.
Leadership: This research theme looks at social organization and self-determination among Labrador Inuit from pre-contact, to the period of colonialism, to self-governance and beyond. Particular importance is played to evolving gender roles within Nunatsiavut.
Expressing Identity: This research theme explores how Labrador Inuit express their identity through storytelling, music, crafting, visual arts, theatre, video, radio, online, and in particular, through the dialect of Labrador Inuktitut.
Image credit: Vanessa Flowers. Baby Slippers (2015). Moosehide, stroud, beads, rabbit fur, pile. 6.35 x 16.51 x 10.16 cm. Collection of the artist. Image: Ned Pratt Photography, courtesy The Rooms. As presented in the touring exhibition SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft of Nunatsiavut, organized by The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery Division.