Section 3: Ethical Processes


In this section, you will consider Indigenous approaches to research from an ethical perspective. Developing a strong ethical stance requires conversations and agreements prior to starting research. Research ethics boards or committees in post-secondary institutions may require a research agreement that upholds Indigenous ownership, control, access, and protection of research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities. These boards and committees may also have such considerations only when the research funder requires them to do so. Most institutional practice falls somewhere in between. First Nations and Métis communities and sometimes urban organizations may also have separate agreements or protocols. At times, you will need to walk and negotiate between different requirements and assumptions. In this section, you will navigate ethical considerations of Indigenous research and be introduced to a community relationship toolkit that holds responsible, respectful, and protective measures.

Purpose of this section

This section provides you with some insights into successful community relationship building. Topics include:

  • Exploring Indigenous ethics and mindsets
  • Incorporating protocols and meeting expectations
  • Building a research agreement with a community engagement toolkit

This section could take you 2–4 hours depending on the depth of collaboration and permissions to gain in your research. Group activities can take up to 3 hours to complete.

In November of 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting Haida Gwaii. I was travelling to visit students enrolled in a Bridging to Trades program in Skidegate. On my way home I was waiting in the Massett Airport to fly back to Vancouver. While there I started a conversation with some young students from a university in the Lower Mainland who happened to be doing some research in Haida Gwaii. Since I had attended a community event the previous evening, I asked the students if they had had the opportunity to attend some activities in the communities and meet some of the locals. The students mentioned that although they were on the island for a number of weeks, they did not ever have that opportunity. I was struck by this as I feel that the most important aspect the students would have come away with was a relationship with the Indigenous people of the islands. I do realize that we have very strict research protocols, however, by not fostering relationships, we are not creating spaces for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in this country. Any type of research is applicable to reconciliation if we want it to be!

– John Chenoweth, personal communication, 2017


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Pulling Together: A Guide for Researchers, Hiłḵ̓ala Copyright © 2021 by Dianne Biin; Deborah Canada; John Chenoweth; and Lou-ann Neel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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