College Benefits from Federal Innovation Funding

Three Selkirk College Projects Chosen as Part of 35 Across Country


Funding from the Federal Government will provide three Selkirk College projects with the resources required to further advance innovative collaborative partnerships with community organizations and local businesses.

The Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council has announced that Selkirk College will receive three grants from the Community & College Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) totaling $603,430. The funds are part of Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan’s announced $7.4 million worth of federal dollars that will be provided to 35 research projects at colleges and polytechnics across the country.

Federal Dollars for Research

Selkirk College has secured three grants from the Federal Government for research and innovation projects. Two of the team leaders on the projects include Selkirk Geospatial Research Coordinator Ian Parfitt (left) and Regional Innovation Chair Terri MacDonald (right).

“The federal research councils’ adjudication processes for programs like this are very rigorous and the competition is stiff,” says Dr. Neil Coburn, Selkirk College Vice President of Education & Students. “In this round, less than half of the proposals were funded. Just getting one approval is a significant achievement. Getting all three of our applications approved is incredible. It demonstrates the dedication, focus and quality that the applicants have put into our innovation and applied research initiatives.”

A Trio of Terrific Projects

The three Selkirk College projects focus on regional workforce development, open data for open government, and advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action through community college dialogue and education.

The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI) is heading up the Regional Workforce Development in Rural BC project. Funding will support more than 30 research positions for college students, graduate students and college faculty researchers. Researchers will work alongside an impressive list of regional, provincial and national partners to identify and answer emerging workforce development research questions.

“Taking an informed and collaborative approach to preparing our 21st Century workforce is critical for our rural region,” says Dr. Terri MacDonald, Regional Innovation Chair at RDI. “Having secured $450,000 of in-kind and cash support from more than 30 partners, in addition to the $240,000 in federal funding, positions us well to undertake this important work.”

Under the Open Data for Open Government in Rural BC Project, the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) will work with several community partners including the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Linking to Geothink—a Canadian Geospatial and Open Data Research Partnership—and building on collaborations with the RDI under the State of the Basin and Digital Basin initiatives, this research will investigate the potential outcomes of open data policy at the local scale for rural regions and communities.

“An Advanced Diploma in GIS student and a Bachelor of GIS student will be funded to participate in this project each year over the next three years,” says SGRC Coordinator Ian Parfitt. “The grant will also support a Master’s student in the second and third year of the project. These students will work directly with local government on developing open data best practices.”

Creating Authentic Partnerships

The project Exploring Reconciliation Through Community College Education, will support important dialogues between residential school survivors in the region and post-secondary institutions. Participants will inform the project team on ways to be more open and responsive as educational institutions.

“So many of the negative impacts on Indigenous families and communities stemmed from the failed education system,” says Jessica Morin, Selkirk College’s Aboriginal Services Liaison. “It’s time to work together to create a system that reflects the values of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and is based in true authentic partnerships.”

Only George Brown College and Sheridan College—both large urban colleges in the Toronto region—received three CCSIF grants showing the Federal Government’s confidence in Selkirk College as a leader in rural research and innovation.

“The announcement of this funding is an example of the great work being done by our staff and students,” says Coburn. “We continue to look for rich learning opportunities like these where students work with the community on projects that will have important outcomes for our region.”

Find out more information about the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council online.


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