International Indigenous Community-based Research

The Indigenous Research Support Team works to support Indigenous research in Canada. While we are unable to consult on or provide specific international Indigenous research support, we can offer some best practices and guidance from Indigenous research in Canada. Below are best practices and resources that we recommend considering in the development of international Indigenous research.  

CARE and FAIR Principles 

The CARE Principles were developed to articulate and ensure appropriate Indigenous data governance and Indigenous data sovereignty in research. CARE refers to Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics 

FAIR principles act as a guide to data publishers and stewards to assist them in evaluating whether their implementation choices are rendering their digital research artifacts as Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.  

In Canada, post-secondary institutions follow research guidelines created by the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2): Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans - Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada. In the TCPS 2 Ch. 9 there is guidance provided on what kinds of research are considered to be Indigenous research, and a directive to engage with the Indigenous community or communities that are involved/ will be affected by the research: 

TCPS 2, Chapter 9, section 9.1 

“Where the research is likely to affect the welfare of an Indigenous community, or communities, to which prospective participants belong, researchers shall seek engagement with the relevant community. The conditions under which engagement is required include, but are not limited to:  

  1. research conducted on First Nations, Inuit or Métis lands;  

  1. recruitment criteria that include Indigenous identity as a factor for the entire study or for a subgroup in the study;  

  1. research that seeks input from participants regarding a community’s cultural heritage, artefacts, traditional knowledge or unique characteristics;  

  1. research in which Indigenous identity or membership in an Indigenous community is used as a variable for the purpose of analysis of the research data; and  

  1. interpretation of research results that will refer to Indigenous communities, peoples, language, history or culture.”  

*Helpful to use as a guideline for international research design that can be altered* 

Indigenous Research Level of Engagement Tool (IRLET

Indigenous research has a history of being exploitative and tokenistic with Indigenous communities. The IRLET is a training tool based on the Tri-Council Policy Statement Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada, and ensures that this harmful research history is not being repeated, but rather is reciprocal and beneficial to all involved parties.  

This tool was designed to support health researchers in developing community engagement plans and as a means of assessing the levels of community engagement in an Indigenous research project.

Each Indigenous community has its own cultural protocol. For example, here in Treaty 7, it is customary to honour Traditional Knowledge Keepers or cultural resource experts with gifts of gratitude and an offering of tobacco in addition to providing honoraria. If you are interested in learning more about the University of Calgary’s cultural protocols you can do so here.  

Wise practice: when engaging with Traditional Knowledge Keepers or cultural resource experts in research it is recommended to learn and follow the cultural protocols of the distinct community or communities you will be working with on the research project.   

The Declaration of Helsinki 

The Declaration of Helsinki is the World Medical Association’s (WMA) best-known policy statement. It is a statement outlining the ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects. It was developed from 10 principles first stated in 1947 in the Nuremberg Code and further incorporated elements from the Declaration of Geneva (made in 1948). 

WMA International Code of Medical Ethics 

This is a list that outlines the guidelines, norms, and central duties of the medical profession in an international setting.  

Further UCalgary Supports

Researchers may also want to connect with the International Research & Innovation Team, which “aims to help researchers initiate, connect, grow, and sustain collaborations to advance knowledge through partnerships with international institutions and organizations.” They serve as the bridge between the Research Services Office (RSO) and UCalgary International (UCI).