Bioethics Blogs

Bill 100 and the Challenges for Indigenous Health Research

Debbie Martin argues that Section 12 of Bill 100 stifles academic freedom and potentially threatens her Indigenous health research.

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On April 22, 2015, without consultation with the affected parties (such as university faculty and students), Nova Scotia’s Liberal Government introduced Bill 100, the Universities Sustainability and Accountability Act. The purpose of the Bill is to introduce legislation to improve financial accountability for universities.

Bill 100 immediately drew criticism for its blatant attack on workers’ rights and academic freedom. Section 12 of this Bill is deeply problematic. This section stipulates that a University’s revitalization plan must include “goals and objectives for contributing to social and economic development and growth in the Province…turning research into business opportunities, fostering a skilled, entrepreneurial and innovative workforce” and “a plan for the effective exchange of knowledge and innovation with the private sector, including excellent collaboration between university and industry”. These requirements are antithetical to the research I do.

Photo Credit: Angel Petropanagos

I am an Assistant Professor and Indigenous health researcher, housed in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University. I am an Inuk woman and member of NunatuKavut. I work with communities on topics that range from substance use and social policy, to oral health and food security within Indigenous communities throughout Atlantic Canada, including Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia.

The research I pursue is difficult for many reasons including the fact that researchers (of all stripes) are often unwelcome guests in Indigenous communities – and for very good reason. As Maori Scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith explains, in many Indigenous communities ‘research is a dirty word’, since it is research that has contributed to ignoring, undermining and otherwise marginalizing Indigenous peoples within the Canadian context.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.