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Empowering Indigenous Voices

How Mitacs is Powering Inclusive Innovation in Canada

David Plamondon

Senior Advisor of Indigenous Relations and Initiatives, Mitacs

Mitacs’s commitment to empowering Canadian innovation through effective partnerships includes a dedication to Indigenous innovation.

For over 20 years, the Canadian non-profit Mitacs has assisted organizations in reaching their business goals, funded cutting-edge innovation, and created job opportunities for students and post-docs.  Mitacs partners with research talent, organizations, and government to support innovation in a wide range of sectors and fields, everything from STEM to social innovation.


Mitacs believes that a successful and prosperous Canada is directly linked to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and accordingly is committed to supporting EDI. Mitacs’s Inclusive Innovation Action Plan (3IAP), a new initiative launched in 2023, provides a set of working goals and guidelines to empower and align teams across the organization in their work to promote inclusive innovation.

A commitment to EDI   

Mitacs has a strong commitment to supporting EDI across the organization and also working with our partners in post-secondary institutions and industry to create more equitable access for a wide range of equity-deserving groups,” says David Plamondon, Senior Advisor of Indigenous Relations and Initiatives at Mitacs. Plamondon’s role focuses on helping address inequalities for Indigenous peoples in terms of accessing the research and innovation ecosystem, as well as guiding Mitacs through its journey in decolonization and being an active ally and actor in the Indigenous space.

Our commitment to EDI is part of our corporate values and core culture.

EDI is an integral component of the organization’s mission. “Our commitment to EDI is part of our corporate values and core culture that we want to build in recognizing the value of having a diverse workforce, but also creating better access for students across a variety of industries,” says Plamondon. “We want to be at the forefront of driving EDI across different industries.”

Working together    

To facilitate this work, Mitacs recently launched a broad five-year strategic plan, which its shorter-term 3IAP complements. The plan introduces Mitacs’s ambitious EDI commitment, which encompasses the onboarding of a new team that includes Plamondon.

Through various initiatives aimed at empowering Indigenous voices, Mitacs is having a powerful impact on Indigenous innovation, reducing barriers for Indigenous peoples, and creating opportunities for Indigenous talent to partner with the organization. One way includes Mitacs’s Indigenous Pathways initiative. This helps Indigenous businesses find the right academic talent to achieve their innovation goals via a strong financial commitment of 75 per cent co-funding. Mitacs is also focused on creating more capacity-building and awareness of opportunities for younger students, including through its partnership with Let’s Talk Science.

From formal partnerships with research talent and industry to more grassroots collaborations, including important partnerships with Pow Wow Pitch and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce, Mitacs’s focus is always on collaboration and mobilizing talent. “Through our partnerships, we’re aiming to help better serve the equity-deserving groups,” says Plamondon. 

Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science Unite to Protect BC Caribou

Mateen Hessami 

Wildlife Ecologist, Kelowna, BC

By facilitating a three-day workshop, researcher Mateen Hassami brought together Splatsin Elders, council members, and community hunters together with federal and provincial government caribou experts, conservation officers, and academics to share traditional knowledge and learnings. The result was rich discussion of Indigenous knowledge, values, and future visions related to protecting caribou and the opportunity to share these insights with key decision makers.

Mitacs was the thread that wove us together and made the opportunity for discussion possible.

“Splatsin are leaders in caribou recovery, dedicated to the recovery of endangered caribou populations within their traditional territory so it’s important that their voice is heard at the table. Mitacs was the thread that wove us together and made the opportunity for discussion possible. They were integral in building an important linkage between an Indigenous community, a university, and a research institute,” says Hessami. 

Learn more at discover.mitacs.ca/indigenous.

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