Indigenous Research Ethics

Through Bi-Naagwad, its Indigenous Initiatives Strategy, the University of Guelph is committed to supporting ethical engagement between researchers and Indigenous peoples, communities, and lands. The University has partnered with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) to create a training webinar, Doing Indigenous Research, for researchers and members of the Research Ethics Board to help strengthen knowledge and understanding about ethical research from Indigenous perspectives. This webinar was created collaboratively and is a tool to be used by researchers at any stage in their research journeys. If you require a text version of the video, a transcript is also available.

The goals of this webinar and its supplementary resources are:

  1. To help support research with and for Indigenous peoples that is based in prioritizing safety and responsibility for all involved;
  2. To help reorient the expectations of the University of Guelph’s research ethics board members through deeper understanding of what ethical research means from Indigenous perspectives; and
  3. To provide helpful tools for both research ethics board reviewers and researchers on their journeys to understanding Indigenous research.
  4. Before engaging with the webinar, it is important to acknowledge that while this webpage and it’s supporting documents speak to Doing Indigenous Research, there is an important distinction within and across First Nations, Inuit and Métis ways of being, knowing and doing. These processes are intimately connected to diverse knowledge systems that are place-based, complex, dynamic, and culturally specific. While there are similarities that exist between various First Nations, Inuit and Métis research methods, methodologies and lifeworlds, this does not mean that what is true for one individual/group/nation/community is true for all. This webinar is presented with the caveat that relationship-building must be prioritized in Indigenous research endeavours to learn the cultural protocols and preferences of those you wish to work with. This requires time, respect, and reciprocity.

Watch - Doing Indigenous Research

Guiding Questions for Indigenous Research

This document brings together questions posed in the Doing Indigenous Research webinar for reviewers and researchers to utilize as a tool when considering and/or conducting Indigenous research. The questions are divided into four sections along the research process: before research begins; during research; after research; and parting questions. While these questions have been temporally placed within the natural progression of a research project, they are not bound to the sections that they have been placed in. It is encouraged that they be revisited frequently to capture any change that has occurred and to invite an iterative process of reflection around the research project.

Additional Resources

Written Resources

  • University of Guelph Bi-Naagwad - It Comes Into View: Indigenous Initiatives Strategy Summary Report
    • This summary report, released on March 4, 2021, outlines the priorities determined by the University of Guelph’s Indigenous Initiatives Task Force. The priorities have been separated into six areas: Guiding the Way Forward; Enhancing Campus Culture; Cultivating Responsible Relationships; Wholistic Development of Indigenous Learners; Seeking, Listening and Meaning Making; and Learning Together.
  • Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) USAI Research Framework
    • This resource outlines the OFIFC’s foundational research framework that was developed to guide all Indigenous research projects conducted by the OFIFC and the 31-member Friendship Centre communities across Ontario. It is named after the acronym that supports its principles: Utility, Self-voicing, Access, and Inter-Relationality.
  • First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R’s - Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991)
    • A seminal resource in Indigenous education and research circles, this article shares the importance of four foundational principles known as the four R’s: respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility.
  • Environmental Scan/Literature Review
    • This document outlines some of the latest developments and practices in Indigenous research ethics at a range of institutions within Canada and internationally. It presents information on Indigenous ethics processes and processes of doing research with Indigenous peoples in ethical ways. It also explores the guiding principles that are considered integral to ethical research with Indigenous peoples and communities. Notions of risk versus responsibility in the context of Indigenous and institutional understandings of ethics and research more broadly are also considered.

Training Resources