Research program

While Canada has considerable expertise in mountain systems research, at present it is not coordinated, research collaborations are limited, non-academics are not consistently involved in its prioritization, design, and implementation, and there exist substantial hurdles to its uptake. Furthermore, Indigenous knowledge and research approaches and methodologies have historically been devalued and constrained in an institutional context dominated by Western research approaches. For these reasons,
our capacity to comprehensively observe, study, forecast, and adapt to rapid changing mountain systems remains limited.

Combined with contributions from diverse partner organizations, the Canadian Mountain Network’s funding from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence program (April 2019 – March 2024) represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to position Canada as a global leader in mountain systems research at a time when Canada’s mountain systems are undergoing rapid and uncertain change.

Informed in part by the first-ever global assessment of the threats to mountain systems (Klein et al.,
2019), the Network has identified four critical, interdependent drivers of change in Canada’s mountain systems:

  • Climate Change
  • Land Use Change
  • Policy & Markets
  • Reconciliation

These drivers have the potential to radically affect mountain environments and the livelihoods of and
risks to mountain peoples.

Supporting Indigenous-led Research

CMN has strongly advocated for bringing multiple ways of knowing to the table to inform and enhance decision-making, including both Indigenous and Western knowledge approaches. For the first time in the NCE program, the Network has provided the opportunity for Indigenous organizations to directly apply for research funding alongside academics. Such projects received 32% of funding through the first call for proposals and respectful Indigenous partnerships and Indigenous leadership were at the core of several other funded projects administered by academic institutions.

Moving forward, CMN affirms its commitment for Indigenous organizations to directly apply to the
Network for research funding. The Network will grow its commitment to Indigenous research by
allocating at least 40% of remaining research funds to such projects.

Indigenous-led research projects must meet several criteria:

  • Clearly respond to identified Indigenous community needs and research priorities;
  • Funding may be administered by Indigenous organizations or post-secondary institutions;
  • Be led by an Indigenous individual;
  • Receive formal and detailed support from Indigenous community leadership; and,
  • Prioritize community engagement and capacity building, including Indigenous trainee
    development.