Report from the LCRIC

By Sharon Morsink (LCRIC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Summer 2023)

The Long Range Plan Community Recommendations Implementation Committee (LCRIC) was created to make sure that CASCA makes progress on the recommendations in the Long Range Plan 2020 related to our community. This includes issues related to Indigenous relations, equity and inclusivity, education and public outreach, sustainability, and trainees.

The Indigenous Engagement Committee

The formation of an Indigenous Engagement Committee (IEC) is recommendation 46 in the Long Range Plan and is an essential part of CASCA’s response to the calls to action arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The CASCA Board voted to form the IEC, with terms drafted by the LCRIC. We are happy that the Board asked Dr. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton to serve as the first chair, and that she has accepted this important position. She will be recruiting members for this committee. If you are interested in serving on this committee, you can contact Laurie and let her know about your interest.

The mandate of the Indigenous Engagement Committee (IEC) is to facilitate engagement and relationships with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities across Canada. The main roles of this committee are:

  1. To actively seek out and engage in dialogues with Indigenous communities, to discover mutual interests, and to identify opportunities to learn from and support each other.
  2. To partner with existing groups working to promote STEM programs that embrace both non-Indigenous and Indigenous approaches.
  3. To forge partnerships with Indigenous organizations to support Indigenous education in astronomy and STEM.
  4. To facilitate connections to funding and support for community educational projects related to Indigeneity.
  5. To foster the development of culturally appropriate astronomical learning material in Indigenous languages in collaboration with teachers and programs.
  6. To build and regularly advertise a public database of resources related to reconciliation and Indigenous engagement that can be accessed by all CASCA members. These resources include but are not restricted to Truth and Reconciliation training, and best practices for publicly and privately funded projects.
  7. To organize regular public consultations (webinars, conference sessions) of all CASCA members on specific Indigenous topics to encourage their engagement.
  8. To guide the creation of IEC committees for Canadian facilities and projects that require such an advisory council.

Respectful Engagement with Local Communities: The Square Kilometre Array

This year we heard the exciting news that Canada plans to participate in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). An important part of the Long Range Plan for astronomy is that participation in any project be “subject to a set of guiding principles for sites used by astronomy projects, centred on consent for the use of facility sites from Indigenous Peoples and traditional title holders.” The SKA project has developed a deep relationship with the local communities in South Africa and Australia where the SKA will be built. This year, in cooperation with the SKA organization, we were able to arrange for two webinars on the process of respectful engagement followed at both sites. Since the situations are very different in the two countries, we held two different webinars, one focussed on each site. These webinars were very informative and helpful for understanding the global context of this new radio telescope. The webinars were recorded, and we hope to have the videos available for CASCA members to view soon.

What Next?

LCRIC will take a summer break and start working again in September. Which Long Range Plan recommendations do you think should be our next priority? Send the chair an email if you have an opinion!

LCRIC Chair:
Sharon Morsink (University of Alberta)

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