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Genome Canada and SING Canada partner to address the underrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in genomics

Province: Alberta
Status: Past
Genome Centre: Genome Alberta

The Summer Internship for INdigenous Peoples in Genomics (SING Canada) is tackling the ongoing and pressing challenge of low Indigenous representation in genomics head-on with innovative, culturally relevant and Indigenous-led mentorship and training.

Genome Canada and Genome Alberta are proud to expand our support for this vital work as we announce a new partnership with SING Canada, extending to at least 2029 and building on previous investments in the initiative.

Launched in 2018 in association with the 
Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society Research and Training Program (Indigenous STS) at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies, SING Canada’s annual weeklong program engages undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral and community fellows from diverse Indigenous communities.

The program immerses participants in the basics of genomics, bioinformatics and bioethics through an Indigenous and decolonial lens, creating space for participants to merge their own lived experience, cultures and knowledge with new learnings in genomics. Since 2018, SING Canada has supported 42 participants through its program, building Indigenous capacity and scientific literacy and nurturing a growing community of Indigenous scholars with new professional networks and genomics research experience.

The expanded SING Canada-Genome Canada partnership is  a key component of our broader commitment and strategic objective to redress historic inequities and advance an inclusive genomics agenda in Canada and globally by:

  • Addressing underrepresentation of equity deserving and Indigenous groups in Canada’s genomics research agenda and landscape, data sets and governance.
  • Working in co-creative partnership with Indigenous researchers, leaders and organizations to develop and support a stand-alone and distinctions-based strategy to bolster Indigenous genomics leadership in Canada.

We look forward to embarking on this new journey with SING Canada as we invest in their strategic vision to grow their workshop cohort, strengthen and expand university and community engagement, and increase Indigenous representation across the genomics science, ethics and policy fields

SING Canada wants the promises of genomics to serve Indigenous communities’ research and medical priorities, including respecting Indigenous governance and building Indigenous capacity to do science. We look forward to working with Genome Canada and Genome Alberta to help make this a reality.

Kimberly TallBear, Professor, Faculty of Native Studies; Co-Founder, SING Canada: Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Society

Learn more about SING Canada

SING Canada is modelled after the successful SING US and SING Aotearoa (New Zealand) programs. The program:

  • Engages Indigenous participants in hands-on classroom, lab and field training in genomics sciences and Indigenous knowledge.
  • Introduces them to leading advances in, and Indigenous approaches to, genomics and its ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social implications (GE 3LS).
  • Highlights the uses, misuses, opportunities and limitations of genomics as a tool for Indigenous peoples’ governance.
  • Grounds participants’ learning in critical Indigenous theory, emphasizing the local contexts (political, legal, biological and Indigenous) where each workshop takes place.
  • Also produces research and other material to inform national, global and Indigenous decision and policymaking related to genomics.

The internship’s 2022 workshop theme is #LandBack: Indigenous Peoples, Soil Science, and Disruptive Sequencing Technologies (July 11-15, 2021)

A multidisciplinary team of faculty from Canada and the U.S. will lead participants in an unprecedented and multi-locale comparative soil microbiome analysis using Oxford Nanopore’s MinIon sequencing technologies. With in-person and remote delivery, the workshop will introduce participants to mobile sequencing technologies and their role in metagenomic soil science. Participants will learn the techniques of identifying soil microorganisms from their DNA, assessing their relative abundance and comparing metagenomic composition across different collection sites.

Learn more and follow SING Canada for updates from this year’s program.