A new national research network plans to tackle the problems of addictions, food security and urban planning within Aboriginal communities in Saskatchewan cities.

The Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network is a partnership between academics, Aboriginal organizations and governments across the country.

University of Saskatchewan professor Ryan Walker is the director of the Prairie centre for the network, and he stresses that it will be the communities themselves that set the priorities and direction of the research.

“For the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network, we follow the community-driven research process.  So the research has to be grounded in community priorities — and basically, it’s designed collaboratively between these communities and the researchers,” he says.

One of the projects currently being funded is led by U of S sociologist John Hansen who is exploring addictions recovery among Aboriginal people who use the Saskatoon Friendship Centre.

It is estimated Indigenous people living in urban centres make up 50% of Canada’s Aboriginal population.