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Knowledge Synthesis Grants

How are the knowledge systems, experiences and aspirations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples essential to building a successful shared future for all Canadians?

June 2016 Competition

Value $25,000
Duration One year
Application deadline September 13, 2016 (Closed)
Results announced November 2016

Value and Duration
Application Process
Regulations, Policies and Related Information
Contact Information


SSHRC is committed to supporting and promoting social sciences and humanities research by and with Aboriginal Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Between 2005 and 2014, SSHRC invested close to $300 million through grants, scholarships and fellowships into some 2,790 projects involving Indigenous research.

Aboriginal research is a key element identified though SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative—in particular, “How are the knowledge systems, experiences and aspirations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples essential to building a successful and shared future for all Canadians?” This future challenge area includes issues in areas such as:

  • self-determination;
  • historical and modern treaties;
  • Aboriginal values, oral histories, knowledge systems and connections to the land;
  • endangered languages and cultures; and
  • Aboriginal youth and employment.  

The release of the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 on the impacts of Indian Residential Schools identified more areas for urgent action to support reconciliation. These include, for example, child welfare, education, health, justice and corrections, Aboriginal rights, museums and archives, media, sports, business, and nearly every other aspect of Canadian life.

The report’s calls to action further highlight the critical role Canadian social science and humanities scholars can play in enabling access to knowledge in these and other areas; knowledge that is properly grounded in respect, diversity and reciprocity in the relationships between First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and academic communities.

In support of SSHRC’s continued engagement and investment in Aboriginal research and talent, as well as collective actions to support truth and reconciliation efforts, SSHRC is launching a Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunity for the future challenge area “How are the knowledge systems, experiences and aspirations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples essential to building a successful and shared future for all Canadians?”

These grants will foster a deeper understanding of the current and historical, cultural, social and economic experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. They will also  support pathways to a vibrant and shared future for all Canadians. The resulting syntheses will help to identify roles that the academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors may play in seizing future opportunities. This understanding and knowledge will help to develop robust policies, strategies, best practices and tools for a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future.

SSHRC invites all eligible applicants, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to consider addressing one or more of the questions listed within the themes of this call.


This funding opportunity has three objectives that applicants must address in their proposals:

State of Knowledge and Research Gaps:

  • critically assess the state of knowledge of the future challenge area theme under consideration from a variety of sources as appropriate;
  • identify knowledge gaps within the theme; and
  • identify the most promising policies and practices related to the theme.

Research Data:

  • assess the quality, accuracy and rigour of current work in the field; and
  • identify gaps in the quantitative and qualitative data available.

Knowledge Mobilization:

  • mobilize knowledge related to promising policies and practices within the academic, private, not-for-profit and public policy sectors, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal; and
  • facilitate dialogue between academic researchers, cross-sectoral stakeholders (including Aboriginal communities) and policy-makers in government.
  • facilitate the use of resulting findings by Aboriginal Peoples and other stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on reciprocity and benefits for communities.

Expected Outcomes

Knowledge Synthesis Grants are not intended to support original research.

Rather, they are intended to support the synthesis of existing research knowledge and the identification of knowledge gaps. This call is particularly focused on the state of research knowledge emerging over the past 10 years.

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to support researchers, teams of researchers and knowledge users to produce knowledge syntheses and scoping reviews that will contribute to the use of synthesized evidence and best practices in decision-making and practice.

Successful applicants or their delegates will be expected to attend two knowledge mobilization workshops—the first in Ottawa and the second in Ottawa or Toronto—to discuss the knowledge syntheses. Travel costs for these meetings should be included in the budget submitted as part of the application. Details on the meetings (tentatively scheduled for January and June 2017 respectively) will be provided to successful applicants.

Successful applicants will also be provided with guidelines for completing their synthesis report.

The call for proposals invites applications from researchers in any discipline that may inform and contribute to the objectives of this funding opportunity. The Imagining Canada’s Future foresight initiative highlighted four enduring issues that are central to all six future challenge areas:

  • sustainable, resilient communities;
  • creativity, innovation and prosperity;
  • values, cultures, inclusion and diversity; and
  • governance and institutions.

As well, the Imagining Canada’s Future initiative identified the importance of international, institutional and gender dimensions as cross-cutting.

Proposals should address one or more of the specific questions listed under the themes below. However, applicants may choose to identify and/or develop specific aspects or elements within the questions to frame the knowledge synthesis.

For examples of previously funded Knowledge Synthesis Grants that may have addressed Aboriginal research, refer to the list of award recipients or contact SSHRC directly at

It is recommended that applicants carefully review SSHRC’s definition of Aboriginal Research, its Indigenous Research Statement of Principles and Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research before preparing their application.



The themes described below frame key issues that draw from the future challenge area, as well as from relevant issues noted in the comprehensive list of six future challenge areas and subquestions. Additional issues relevant to the themes and subquestions listed below are welcome, as are international comparisons and interdisciplinary collaborations that may inform policy issues and practices relevant for Canada. These themes are also interconnected and may be considered as such.

Values, cultures and languages

  • How might the richness of endangered languages and cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples contribute to a global human heritage?
  • How can Canadians and future generations better understand the traditional and contemporary First Nations, Inuit and Métis wisdom, values, cultures, leadership, and knowledge systems, including their relationships with people, places and the land?
  • What can be learned from best practices related to the revitalisation, teaching and preservation of diverse First Nations, Métis and Inuit languages, heritage, memories, and identities?
  • What role does social sciences and humanities research play in advancing collective goals for reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples?

Treaties, governance, legal traditions and equity

  • What are the implications of historical and modern treaties?
  • What models of self-governance and law making are most conducive to the social, cultural, political and economic well-being of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada?
  • How are Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizational structures and institutions shaping and fostering sustainable and vibrant communities?
  • What are the most appropriate and effective protocols and practices for collecting and using data related to Indigenous peoples and communities, in light of the First Nations principles of ownership, control, access and possession (OCAP®)?
  • How can Canada’s current justice system benefit from Indigenous legal traditions and principles?
  • What are the barriers and opportunities facing First Nation, Inuit and Métis children and youth on reserve, in remote and in urban settings, or in the North?
  • What role does gender play in advancing leadership and well-being of Aboriginal Peoples?

Education and research capacity

  • What are the most effective structures, approaches and support systems for attracting, engaging and retaining Aboriginal Peoples in postsecondary education?
  • How do curricula that reflect the learning experiences, languages, cultures and perspectives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples affect the educational outcomes for students at all levels?  
  • How should Aboriginal Peoples and other Canadians build and enhance capacity by and with Aboriginal communities to engage in and benefit from mutually respectful research?
  • In what ways do Aboriginal knowledge systems—such as ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies—contribute to interdisciplinary collaboration and extend the boundaries of knowledge across all disciplines, including those in engineering, health and natural sciences?

Economic development and environmental sustainability

  • How do First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples define their roles in the economic development of urban, rural and remote communities? 
  • What business development and entrepreneurship opportunities are emerging for Aboriginal Peoples in the context of evolving knowledge needs, changing labour markets and the global economy?
  • What are the impacts of own-source revenues on the delivery of programs and services to Aboriginal Peoples and communities?
  • What trends are emerging related to the urbanization of Aboriginal populations?
  • What are the economic, social and environmental impacts of resource development on Aboriginal communities, and in particular, on women and children?
  • What are appropriate practices and processes for establishing and maintaining respectful social licence agreements with Aboriginal communities?


Value and Duration

Knowledge Synthesis Grants are one–year grants worth up to $25,000. However, all synthesis reports must be completed by May 2017. A minimum of 15 grants will be awarded.

By applying for this funding opportunity, applicants consent, should they be awarded a Knowledge Synthesis Grant, to SSHRC sharing the resulting synthesis report with other interested organizations and individuals.



Subject matter

Knowledge Synthesis Grant proposals may involve any disciplines and approaches or subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. Please see Subject Matter Eligibility for more information.

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development are not eligible.


Applicants must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application. If the Canadian postsecondary institution with which they are affiliated is not a SSHRC eligible institution, the institution must meet the requirements to administer grants and awards, as outlined in the Institutional Eligibility Requirements for the Administration of Grants and Awards, and must contact SSHRC at least five business days prior to the application deadline to begin the eligibility process. Applicants successful in the competition must be affiliated with an eligible institution before funding can be released.

Applicants who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but who have failed to submit a final research report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for this or any other SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to apply for a Knowledge Synthesis Grant. For SSHRC to release grant funds, however, successful applicants must have formally established an affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution before the grant is awarded, and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.


Co-applicants may be individuals from any of the following:

  • Canadian: Postsecondary institutions; not-for-profit organizations; philanthropic foundations; think tanks; and municipal, territorial or provincial governments.
  • International: Postsecondary institutions.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to be co-applicants for a Knowledge Synthesis Grant under the same conditions as those outlined in Applicants.


Any individual who will make a significant contribution to the project is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.

Note that individuals from the private sector or federal government may participate only as collaborators.


Grant funds may only be administered by an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.


Application Process

Applications must be emailed as a .pdf file attachment, using the following format:

  • single-sided, 8 1/2" x 11" (21.5 cm x 28 cm) paper size;
  • single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch;
  • body text in a minimum 12 pt Times New Roman font;
  • all margins set at a minimum of 3/4" (1.87 cm);
  • name of the institution appears within the set margins at the top right corner of every page; and
  • all pages, including the printed copies of the CV, numbered consecutively and indicating the total number of pages sent (e.g., 1 of 14 or 1/14 … 14/14).

Applications must include the following:

  1. a proposal (maximum four pages, not including references) containing:
    • a descriptive title (maximum 255 characters);
    • a description of the knowledge synthesis project, including the significance, expected contributions and impacts of the proposed synthesis, contextualized within the current literature and accounting for previous work done in the areas;
    • an outline of the relevant expertise and experience of the applicant/team;
    • a work plan, including timelines, and a description of the proposed methodology and approach;
    • the applicant’s signature; and
    • in the upper right-hand corner of each page, the applicant’s name and the theme and subthemes under which the proposal falls;
  2. an itemized budget (maximum two pages), including justification of proposed expenditures;
  3. a knowledge mobilization plan (maximum two pages), identifying the target research users expected to receive the synthesis results, how the results will be shared with these users, and one or more examples of knowledge mobilization the applicant/team has conducted with research users;
  4. a half-page summary of the proposal, written in clear, non-technical language (by submitting an application, applicants consent, should they be awarded a Knowledge Synthesis Grant, to the use of this summary for promotional purposes outside the research community, to inform politicians, media and members of the public who request information about research funded by SSHRC);
  5. a SSHRC Web CV for each applicant and co-applicant (the CCV cannot be accepted at this time);

    Co-applicants affiliated with a postsecondary institution must submit a full SSHRC CV.

    Co-applicants from a non-academic organization have the option of submitting a full SSHRC CV or only completing the following, mandatory fields:

    Identification module—Correspondence language
    Identification module—Permanent postal code
    Current Position module—Organization, department, start date
    Current Position module—Address
    Current Position module—Primary phone number
    Research Expertise module—Keywords
    Research Expertise module—Discipline #1

    The following tables indicate which co-applicants must provide Research Contributions and Relevant Experience attachments:

    Co-applicants affiliated with a postsecondary institution
    Research Contributions Relevant Experience



    Co-applicants affiliated with a non-academic organization
    Research Contributions Relevant Experience



  1. up to three discipline codes applicable to the proposal;
  2. a list of research contributions (maximum four pages) for each applicant and co‑applicant (if applicable), describing:
    • research contributions over the last six years (refereed, non-refereed and forthcoming contributions, creative outputs, etc.);
    • other contributions to research and the advancement of knowledge within the last six years, including research contributions to non-academic audiences (general public, policy-makers, private sector, not-for-profit organizations, etc.);
    • career interruptions and special circumstances; and
    • contributions to training within the last six years, including roles in supervising or co-supervising ongoing and/or completed theses, listing these by the student’s level of studies;
  3. relevant experience (maximum 1 page)
  4. a separate page containing the signature of an authorized signatory from the applicant’s institution, certifying that the institution will administer any award in accordance with SSHRC policies; and
  5. a signed Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information for each applicant and co-applicant.

All application materials must be submitted in .pdf format and be received by 8:00 p.m. (eastern) September 13, 2016.

Email complete applications to Applications submitted in whole or in part by other means will not be considered.


Evaluation and Adjudication

SSHRC’s goal, through this funding opportunity, is to support syntheses covering a range of the subthemes outlined within each of the broad thematic areas, as set out above.

Please note that grants may not necessarily be allocated evenly across subthemes; and, where there are value-added differences in approach and coverage, more than one grant may be allocated to a single subtheme.

An expert adjudication committee will assess all applications in accordance with SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research, and using the following criteria:

Challenge (40%):

  • expected contribution to the funding opportunity’s stated objectives;
  • significance of the applicant’s chosen topic or area(s) for synthesis, based on the issues identified in this call for proposals;
  • potential influence and impact in informing policy and practice in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors; and
  • identification of research gaps that might be addressed by a forward-looking research agenda in the chosen area(s).

Feasibility (30%):

  • ability to meet the objectives of the funding opportunity;
  • appropriateness of the methodology or approach and of the work plan, including timelines for the design and conduct of the activity;
  • quality and appropriateness of knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable; and
  • appropriateness of the requested budget.

Capability (30%):

  • qualifications of the applicant/team to carry out the proposed project (expertise in the content area, synthesis methods, information retrieval, etc.); and
  • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration/other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and the media), and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.

Communication of results

Applicants will be informed of competition results within the month following adjudication.


Regulations, Policies and Related Information

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. See SSHRC’s Open Access overview for more information. SSHRC also encourages researchers to manage data arising from their research, in accordance with both community standards and best practices.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their applications:

Successful applicants will be required to share the results of their project with SSHRC. SSHRC will use this information to develop its policies and practices. It may also share this information with other interested sectors of the Government of Canada, as well as other organizations. This does not in any way limit how researchers may otherwise publish or use the results of their research.

Privacy notice

SSHRC is responsible for complying with the Privacy Act, and all information collected by SSHRC is subject to, and governed in accordance with, this Act. SSHRC is committed to the protection of the personal information under its control. The personal information that you provide is collected by the agency under the authority of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act, and stored in the SSHRC personal information bank PPU 055, as described in Info Source. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Only the information needed to deliver, administer and promote the Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition and awards is collected. This may include sharing application information with other agencies and departments of the Government of Canada, as well as other organizations, that are specifically interested in supporting the research and related activities generated through Knowledge Synthesis Grants awards and with which SSHRC has established agreements. SSHRC will contact you to obtain your consent prior to any disclosure of personal information to these funding partners. For more specific information about the organizations/institutions involved in this Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition, please contact SSHRC program staff.

Further details on the use and disclosure of the information collected by SSHRC are available under Use and Disclosure of Personal Information in Applications for SSHRC Awards.

In addition to protecting your personal information, the Privacy Act gives you the right to request access to and correction of your personal information. For more information about these rights, or about our privacy practices, please contact the SSHRC Access to Information and Privacy manager at 613-992-1058 or You also have the right to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if you think your personal information has been handled improperly.

Related opportunities

SSHRC and its partner organizations offer several initiatives that may complement the Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunity. Please see the joint initiatives listed on SSHRC’s Funding page to learn more about specific joint initiatives.


Contact Information

For more information about this funding opportunity, or for advice on preparing your application, please contact:

Roxanne Dompierre
Senior Program Officer
Office of the Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges
Tel.: 613-944-5327

Send applications to: