Indigenous Research Support Team: FAQ

Indigenous research refers to research in any field or discipline that engages Indigenous peoples as investigators and/or partners to extend knowledge that is meaningful or significant for Indigenous communities [1,2].

Indigenous research can take many forms and use a variety of methodologies or perspectives. At its core though, research by and with Indigenous peoples and communities is premised on respectful relationships [3]. Such research encourages collaboration among researchers and participants, and emphasizes and values Indigenous peoples’ existing strengths, assets, and knowledge systems.  

References:

[1] Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Definitions of terms. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, last modified 2019. [Online] Available from: https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/programs-programmes/definitions-eng.aspx#a11 [accessed 23 July 2020].

[2] L.M. Given. Indigenous research. The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods, 2008. [Online] Available from: https://methods.sagepub.com/reference/sage-encyc-qualitative-research-methods/n211.xml [accessed 23 July 2020].

[3] Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2018. [Online] Available from: https://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca [accessed 23 July 2020].

Community engagement, as it pertains to research involving Indigenous peoples, is a process of relationship-building between a researcher and the Indigenous community relevant to the research project. This can take many forms, from approval from formal leadership to conduct research in the community, to co-developing a research project with a particular organization or agency, to formalizing a research partnership through a research agreement, to consulting with an advisory group or community expert [1].  

The term “community” should here be understood as a broad one, referring to a group of people who have a shared identity or interest. Communities can be organizational, territorial, or a community of interest [1]. They can be formal or informal, temporary or long-term, and one individual may belong to multiple communities at the same time. 

The type and extent of community engagement may vary, depending on community context and the nature of the research. Likewise, because there is great diversity both within and between communities, there is no one universal way to do community engagement. Good community engagement will look different across projects, groups, and relationships.

References:

[1] Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2018. [Online] Available from: https://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca [accessed 23 July 2020].

Generally, working in a good way with Indigenous groups or on Indigenous lands requires community engagement. Indigenous communities should be involved as early as possible in the development of a research project and should actively help shape and direct the research from the beginning.

Where research is likely to affect the welfare of an Indigenous community or communities, researchers should seek engagement with those communities. This can include, but is not limited to:

a. Research conducted on First Nations, Inuit, or Métis lands;

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

c. Research that seeks input from participants regarding a community’s cultural heritage, artefacts, Traditional Knowledge, or unique characteristics;

d. 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

e. Interpretation of research results that will refer to Indigenous communities, people, language, history, or culture [1, Article 9.1].  

It is unfortunately common for researchers to create a research question or develop a research project that concerns Indigenous peoples or lands, and then invite Indigenous communities to participate in the research. However, research done in a good way with Indigenous peoples should be community-engaged, community-driven, and based on community priorities, interests, and ideas. This respects self-determination of Indigenous peoples in research.  

References:

[1] Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2018. [Online] Available from: https://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca [accessed 23 July 2020].

At the University of Calgary, all research that involves humans, their data, or human biological materials must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate University of Calgary Research Ethics Board (REB) before the research commences. This includes research that is conducted within the University of Calgary’s jurisdiction, as well as research conducted under its auspices, regardless of where the research is conducted.

The University of Calgary abides by and promotes the ethics standards laid out in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans [1]. Chapter 9 of the TCPS2 directly pertains to research involving First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada.

Depending on your research project, additional ethics review and approval may be required. Some Indigenous communities may have independent ethics guidelines, policies, and review procedures that researchers must follow. Ethics review by the University of Calgary is not a substitute for community review and is not intended to override or replace ethical guidance offered by Indigenous peoples themselves.

If you have any questions pertaining to research ethics review, please contact Alexandra Kanters at alexandra.kanters1@ucalgary.ca.

References:

[1] Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2018. [Online] Available from: https://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca [accessed 23 July 2020].

Native-Land.ca has created an interactive online map of global Indigenous territories, languages, and treaties [1]. This may be a helpful starting point for researchers wanting to learn more about the area in which they work, and who they may need consent from in order to conduct research.

In Alberta, there are 45 First Nations in three treaty areas: Treaties 6, 7, and 8. There are 140 reserves in Alberta, and approximately 812,771 hectares of reserve land [2]. You can learn more about First Nations in Alberta here.

Alberta also has the largest Métis population in Canada and is the only province with a recognized Métis land base [3]. There are eight Métis settlements in Alberta, covering a land base of 1.25 million acres. Canadian Geographic has created an interactive map of these settlement communities [4].

If you are still unsure about whether your research is on Indigenous land, please contact the Indigenous Research Support Team at irst@ucalgary.ca.

References:

[1] Native Land. Native Land map. Native Land, [no date]. [Online] Available from: https://native-land.ca/ [Accessed 23 July 2020].

[2] Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. First Nations in Alberta. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, last modified 2010. [Online] Available from: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100020670/1100100020675 [Accessed 23 July 2020].

[3] Government of Alberta. Métis relations: Information on Métis history, organizations and legislation. Government of Alberta, 2020. [Online] Available from: https://www.alberta.ca/metis-relations.aspx [Accessed 23 July 2020].

[4] N. Walker. Exploring Alberta’s eight Métis settlements. Canadian Geographic, 2017. [Online] Available from: https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/exploring-albertas-eight-metis-settlements [Accessed 23 July 2020].

OCAP® is a set of First Nations principles that establish how First Nations data should be collected, protected, used, or shared. These principles are considered the standard for how to conduct research with First Nations people and communities.

 OCAP® stands for Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession. These four principles assert that First Nations have control over data collection processes in their communities, and that they own and control how that information can be used [1].

To learn more about OCAP®, click here.

To take the “Fundamentals of OCAP®” course, click here.

References:

[1] First Nations Information Governance Centre. The First Nations principles of OCAP®. First Nations Information Governance Centre, 2020. [Online] Available from: https://fnigc.ca/ocap [Accessed 23 July 2020].

 

Cultural protocols and community customs will look different depending on the community or communities involved. Researchers have an obligation to become informed about, and to respect, the relevant customs and codes of practice that apply in the particular community or communities affected by their research [1, Article 9.8]. 

For guidance on cultural protocol, visit the Office of Indigenous Engagement’s Cultural Protocol website, consult the UCalgary Cultural Protocol Guidelines, or request a meeting with Elissa Twoyoungmen, the Indigenous Cultural Education and Protocol Specialist, at etwoyoun@ucalgary.ca.  

References:

[1] Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2018. [Online] Available from: https://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca [accessed 23 July 2020].

There are several sources of support at the University of Calgary. For Indigenous research specifically, the newly formed Indigenous Research Support Team (IRST) is a great starting point.

The IRST affirms the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, and seeks to strengthen and identify existing resources for Indigenous communities and groups, university researchers, and further partners to promote collaborative, reciprocal, and culturally-responsive research.

To learn more about the IRST and to get in touch, click here.

 

We recommend getting in touch with IRST as early as possible in the research process so that we can work with you throughout. However, we encourage researchers to connect with us at any point in their research.

We welcome collaboration and connection with any and all Indigenous communities! While our team is located on Treaty 7 territory, we aim to be a single point of contact for all university researchers doing any work within the broader Indigenous landscape, including with Indigenous communities and on Indigenous lands.

No, it’s not mandatory to connect with or consult IRST. However, we do encourage researchers who would like to work with Indigenous communities and/or on Indigenous lands to connect with us early on in the project so that we may continue to support the work throughout the research process.

The office for Indigenous Engagement is addressing matters across and throughout UCalgary, with a particular focus on the implementation of ii’ taa’poh’to’p, our Indigenous Strategy. IRST is a component that is focused on matters pertaining to research, particularly support for research projects.