About the research

This project is funded by a SSHRC Race, Gender and Diversity grant and conceived from a collaboration between the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) and Dr. Melanie Zurba. The project aims to understand what “research” and “evidence” means from an Indigenous perspective and will generate knowledge and insights that will support Indigenous leadership within academic research and natural resource governance. Over the next few years, the project will examine various current research initiatives and will work with key informants to create intergenerational connections and expand the potential of Indigenous Knowledge and language in transforming natural resource governance and research practices.

Incorporating Indigenous research methods, the project has a strong knowledge mobilization component and seeks to deploy and share the insights gained with all stakeholders including Indigenous communities, Indigenous organizations, as well as research and governance partners.

Project Team:

Project Director and Principal Investigator- 
Co-principal Investigator-

Steering Committee-

Dr. Melanie Zurba


Lisa Young


Shelley Denny, Patricia Nash, Dr. Karen Beazley

 About the research

The relationships between the natural environment and community wellbeing are well-established yet understudied. Funded through a SSHRC Connection grant, this project brings together academics and their community partners from across diverse disciplines for an inclusive platform targeted at highlighting community voices and equitable knowledge sharing from community engaged and partnered research. The project will strengthen ties between academics and communities and will include co-production workshops that bridge disciplinary boundaries. Guided by a boundary work approach, the project will mobilize knowledge around community wellbeing and will result in an edited volume contributed by all partners and participants. This volume will enhance the understanding of research collaborations and will enrich public discourse to reap knowledge outcomes around community partnered research.

            Academic Team

Designing Governance Frameworks for Protected Areas with Meaningful Indigenous Participation

 About the research

This project, funded through a SSHRC insight grant, aims to generate and enhance knowledge for shaping, implementing, and assessing Indigenous collaboration in governance frameworks for global protected areas (PAs). More equitable and inclusive governance frameworks are expected to generate more direct cultural benefits, such as those associated with connections to traditional territory, as well as economic benefits associate with better PA governance.

It is well recognized that complex social-ecological systems such as PA’s generally require collaboration from multiple partners, and there is growing recognition the social and environmental benefits of PA’s should be secured through Indigenous participation and collaboration within PA governance systems. Meaningful Indigenous participation in PA governance enables organizations to move beyond structural injustices often embedded in existing frameworks and support emergent frameworks that promote more equitable and environmentally sound processes and outcomes.

This project works as a global collaboration between partners from Indigenous Organizations and academic institutions with the aim of producing research that is valuable in both practical and academic contexts. 

Indigenous Organizations:

Core Academic Team

Dalhousie University
Macquarie University
Macquarie University
International Union for the Conservation of Nature Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP)
University of Winnipeg

Creating Vocabularies and Rituals for Climate Grief Through Multiple Knowledge Systems and the Artistic Process

                             About the research

“Climate grief” is a term used to identify the negative emotions associated with a changing climate. The language and rituals used by those experiencing climate grief are insufficiently developed, as is the understanding of how climate change is transforming artistic practice and legacy. Funded through the New Frontiers in Research- Explore grant, This project is positioned in this intersection to work as an interdisciplinary collaboration, connecting ecology and climatology (biological and earth sciences), art theory and practice (fine arts), mental health and social wellbeing (health sciences), and learning theory (social science) to better understand thoughts and emotions associated with “climate grief”.

Alongside Melanie Zurba as the principal investigator, this project is also led by Erica Mendritzki (NSCAD University), Andrew Park (University of Winnipeg) and in collaboration with Roberta Woodgate (University of Manitoba). Partners of the project collaborate through methods of knowledge production, art creation, community engagement, and analyses of the emerging vocabularies and rituals of climate grief through engagement with multiple ways of knowing (artistic, scientific, emotional).

Project Partners

Dalhousie University
NSCAD University
The University of Winnipeg
The University of Manitoba

University of New Brunswick

Dalhousie University

 About the research

This project is funded through the Dalhousie University Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant. It explores how collaborative land-based curriculm development can act as “boundry-work”. Boundary work in place-based research involves collaboration between academics and communities that are geared towards producing items or platforms to communicate across social, cultural and political “boundaries”. This project is led by Dr. Melanie Zurba, and partnered with Reclaiming our Roots, an organization focusing on Mi’kmaw land-based education to develop a land-based learning excursion for the course Indigenous perspectives on resource and environmental management (SUST3955/ENVI5039).

By employing participatory principles to collaboratively develop land-based education, academic and community partners will make up a community of practice that will explore how land-based learning experiences can impart knowledge and messages about Indigenous livelihoods practices, culture and resurgence. In addition to providing valuable and culturally appropriate educational experiences centred on Indigenous topics, land-based curriculum development can also act as an important vehicle for decolonizing education systems and building relationships between the academy and communities. 

Community Organization Partners: 

Reclaiming our Roots –

Academic Partner:

Sustainable Nunatsiavut Futures

 About the research

The Sustainable Nunatsiavut Futures project, funded through the Ocean Frontiers Institute, works to understand and predict the changing conditions of Nunatsiavut coastal systems brought on by the effects of climate change. Understanding change within these ecosystems requires the co-development of research objectives and approaches. As such this project is positioned as a co-production of knowledge where highly qualified personnel, co-supervisors and Inuit community members will co-develop the research program and integrate results. Dr. Melanie Zurba is co-lead with Dr. Megan Bailey (Dalhousie Marine Affairs) of Work Package 1, which focuses on developing principles for and studying the learning associated with knowledge co-production through the project

The project is structured as three research themes which (A) develop empirical understanding of dynamic coastal systems and (B) planning for changes in these dynamics through (C) knowledge sharing and co-production.

Principal Investigators

Dalhousie University
Memorial University
Nunatsiavut Government

Improving Newcomers Wellbeing Through Nature ­Based Approaches

 About the research

The aim of this project is to examine the experiences of newcomers from different cultures, ages, and abilities on using nature-based programs to improve their wellbeing. Working through partnerships with organizations in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the project team will engage newcomers through a community based participatory action research approach to understand their experiences and develop a pilot nature-based program to promote their wellbeing.  Funded for this project has been grated through a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Alongside Dr.Busolo and Dr.Zurba, collaborating organizations on the project are Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes (ADAM), and Immigration Francophone Nouevelle-Écosse (IFNÉ). 

Through the perspectives gathered from newcomers, the researchers, newcomers, and service providers will work collaboratively to develop and implement a pilot nature-based program to promote newcomers wellbeing. The research team will evaluate the nature-based program and provide recommendations for future nature-based programming to support their well being The proposed research will be the first of its kind to be carried out in Atlantic Canada and will generate research findings on newcomers’ experiences of using nature based programs to promote their wellbeing

Community Organization Partners: 

Academic Team