Understanding the Past to Build the Future is a five-year multidisciplinary study of the history of the Inuit Métis of southern Labrador. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) programme and the community partners listed on the official Labrador CURA web page. These include NunatuKavut (the Labrador Métis Nation) Memorial University, the University of New Brunswick, Parks Canada, and the communities along the Southern Labrador coast that lie between Cape Charles and Sandwich Bay.
The research objectives are to investigate the Inuit occupation of Southern Labrador, collect and analyse evidence of Inuit-European interactions, document cultural changes, and bring the history of the Métis into the present day. Research activities include archaeology, ethnography, archival study, and genealogy.
This research project combines and applies academic and community-based knowledge for the benefit of all stakeholders. A key outcome will be the incorporation of information into school curricula for southern Labrador, and material for adult literacy support. This will in turn result in greater local content for use in social studies and history classes, hopefully attracting student interest and stimulating learning.
Our primary task in LabradorLife will be to post the new materials generated by the CURA research team in a range of accessible and appealing formats. Secondly, in order to enhance these new materials, we will provide context and background on local heritage, history and identity. Thirdly, we will develop a range of strategies for incorporating new materials into social studies curriculum for elementary and high schools.
Much of the new CURA materials we will be posting on the LabradorLife portal will come from archaeology sites in Sandwich and Alexis bays, where field excavations have been taking place during the summers throughout the five years of the CURA. We will also have materials derived from research conducted in European and North American archives that house mission and mercantile records from Southern Labrador. A third source of new data will come in the form of genealogies of Labrador families and the histories of pioneer settlers that founded these families. Finally, we will be working with ethnographic data on current concepts of Métis identity.
The success of our virtual world portal, LabradorLife, depends upon close cooperation between stakeholders and researchers. During the summer of 2011, the LabradorLife team visited schools in the research area in order to build a collaborative community of potential LabradorLife contributors and users among CURA partners, governing board members, teachers, school board personnel, and members of the CURA research team. In the next section, where we give a detailed description of LabradorLife, we will introduce our LabradorLife collaborators. Below, we list the members of the CURA research team.
The Labrador CURA research team Include:
Dr. Mario Blaser, Memorial
University (ethnography, First Nations research collaboration)
Dr. John Kennedy, Private Scholar,
North River, Nova Scotia (ethnography, social and economic history)
Mr. Greg Mitchell, NunatuKavut (community research collaboration,
Dr. Evelyn Plaice, University of New Brunswick (ethnography, education)
Dr. Lisa Rankin, Memorial University (Principal Investigator) (archaeology,
Dr. Hans Rollmann, Memorial University (social history, church history)
Ms. Patricia Way, Private Scholar, Cartwright, Labrador (genealogy, social history)
For further information on the Labrador CURA, including a complete list of partners and participants, please visit the official website: