In 2019, the former Institute of Canadian and Aboriginal Studies was renamed the Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies (IIRS) to better reflect its mission at the University of Ottawa. The Institute’s current mandate is to stimulate and support teaching, research, and other interdisciplinary activities relating to Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.
In the context of Indigenous people’s struggle to decolonize many institutions, including universities, the University of Ottawa, one of Canada’s leading research and teaching institutions, has increasingly recognized the importance of national and international perspectives of Indigenous peoples, as grounded in their intellectual traditions. Today, Indigenous scholars are exploring traditional knowledge as a body of thought within the cultural contexts that created it, not just as a comparative form of study. Across the disciplines, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars are investigating how to critically engage the traditional knowledges and teachings of Indigenous peoples in academic settings without further perpetuating colonialism.
In this context, the IIRS aims to foster dedicated spaces for Indigenous scholars to push the boundaries of their disciplines, critically assess and question current practices, and renew their fields. To carry out its mandate, the Institute is working to bring together Indigenous scholars who will lead the University in renewing its teaching and research, and to better meet the needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners. The Institute further carries out its mandate by way of its undergraduate programs in both French and English, by offering Indigenous language courses and the infrastructure required for research, including visitorships, and by organizing public activities such as lectures and seminars.