Maureen Reed. Photo courtesy

A University of Saskatchewan professor is getting a national nod for her involvement with a network that’s building relationships between Indigenous people and academics.

Maureen Reed is a finalist for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Impact Awards in the Connections category.

Reed is involved in a biosphere reserve network that consults and works with Indigenous people, and is dedicated to respecting Indigenous rights, sharing Indigenous knowledge and engaging Indigenous citizens. There are 18 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Canada, with Saskatchewan’s only site located at Redberry Lake. This designation means volunteers and non-government partners in the region – including the reserve of Mistawawis – are working on issues of “biological and cultural diversity, sustainable development and capacity through research and learning,” Reed told MBC.

“Reed’s work and leadership have influenced UNESCO policies on the inclusion of Indigenous people and how biospheres worldwide work together to promote their sustainability goals,” says a U of S news release.

The geography researcher said it’s essential to respect Indigenous ties to the land in all levels of academia, especially in her field.

“Virtually anything in Canada – when we’re talking about land, environment, resources, rural – we can’t talk about those things without also talking about Indigenous people,” Reed said.

Reed is a professor and assistant director academic at the U of S School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS), and the university is also marking her successes.

“The collaborative approach and passion that Maureen has brought to her outstanding work on biosphere reserves has strengthened communities and created a sustainability model in Canada with global impact,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research, in a news release.

Reed is in the top three for her category. The winner will be announced in Ottawa’s Rideau Hall on Sept. 15.

To learn more about biosphere reserves, Reed is featured in this video.