Pilot project gives academic journals to Indigenous institutions
- Rose Mansbridge-Goldie | November 25, 2021
Several Indigenous institutions and communities now have access to 120 academic journals, free of charge, through First Voices First, a project hosted by Emerald Publishing and the Council of Prairie and Pacific Libraries.
The content of the journals includes business and accounting, health, human resources and education resources.
“It’s a mixed bag and there’s quite a bit of Indigenous content,” said Deborah Lee, an Indigenous librarian at the University of Saskatchewan.
Searching “Indigenous in Canada” you get more than 3000 results, Lee said.
“That's a really good starting point for the communities and the small colleges that we're offering this package to.”
The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT), Muskoday First Nation, University of the North, Northlands College, Chemawawin Public Library at Easterville, Norway House Public Library, Pukatawagan Public Library System, Pahkisimon Nuyeʔáh Library System will all have access to these journals through the U of S’s subscription.
First Nations University of Canada is not on the list because they already have a subscription through the University of Regina or the U of S, Lee said.
Muskoday is the only Indigenous community that is a part of the project now, but Lee hopes more communities will hop on board.
“It's hard to learn about professional development if you don't have access to the databases (after) university. If you have the luxury of being able to search a database at any time you can learn about new research that might be helpful to yourself or your community,” Lee said.
For high school students, it will be useful to be introduced to these journals prior to attending university. As a librarian at the U of S, Lee sees many Indigenous students overwhelmed by the sudden access to academic research and literature.
“A lot of the time they shake their heads and walk out of the library, overwhelmed, so if they have access to a database in high school they can make the best use of their time when they do go to university because they will be familiar with how to use these resources.”
Older research done on Indigenous communities by non-Indigenous anthropologists and scholars will also be available which is an important part of reconciling Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people.
“In the 1800s 1900s there were a lot of researchers who would do their research in an Indigenous community—they would interview the people and be hosted by the community and then the researcher would take the information back with them, the knowledge that was shared, and they would write an article or a book. They never once shared that information with the Indigenous community members. That's a very extractive way of doing research—the researcher is getting the benefit of those publications and the community gets nothing,” Lee said.
“They don't even get the opportunity to verify if what the author said was true.”
First Voices First runs until December 2022 and if it is successful, beyond, with the hope to extend the project to Western Canada.
“It’s a new experience for me to be working with publishers that understand Indigenous issues really well and are willing to listen to what we have to say—sometimes people who work in the mainstream are not that open to hearing these voices,” said Lee.