We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.
Indigenous Watchdog Status Update
|Current Status||June 14, 2021||IN PROGRESS|
|Previous Status||March 31, 2021||IN PROGRESS|
Why “In Progress”?
The Canada Canada Research Coordinating Committee was created to improve the coordination efforts of Canada’s granting agencies—the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research—as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
On Jan. 17, 2020 the committee released “Setting New Directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada – Strategic Plan 2019 – 2022” co-developed with Indigenous peoples.
Budget 2018 committed $3.8M to develop a strategic research plan “to identify new ways of doing research with Indigenous communities, including strategies to grow the capacity of Indigenous communities to conduct research and partner with the broader research community.” Hired a Director, Indigenous Research to manage implementation of engagement plan.
Aug. 17, 2020 – SSHRC is funding $2.5 million over six years to support the Rebuilding First Nations Governance project, an investigation into transforming Indian Act governance. Carleton University researcher Frances Abele in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) and project co-founders Satsan (Herb George) of the Centre for First Nations Governance and Catherine MacQuarrie, a fellow with SPPA, tackles perhaps the most intractable issue in Indigenous-Canada relations: how can First Nations work free of Indian Act governance to become fully self-governing within Canada? RFNG is an alliance of First Nation communities and tribal councils, and academic researchers and practitioners, committed to working from the community level up to end Indian Act governance and build alternatives that realize the inherent right to self-government as affirmed in the Constitution Act.
Setting New Directions: Strategic Plan 2019-2022
The strategic plan is published by the federal research granting agencies — the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council — and fulfills a priority of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee to co-develop with Indigenous Peoples an interdisciplinary research and research training model that contributes to reconciliation.
Key Issues and Concerns
- Decolonizing research
- Data governance and Intellectual Property rights
- Research ethics and protocols
- Funding eligibility and accessibility
- Research partnerships and community-led research
- Supporting Indigenous students
- Indigenous leadership and representation
Four Strategic Directions for Strengthening Indigenous Research Capacity
Building relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples
Objective: A commitment to sustained engagement with Indigenous peoples
- Offer funding opportunities to support relationship building between Indigenous communities, organizations, researchers and students in developing, undertaking, and reporting on research projects; and for Indigenous partners to promote learning and sharing of research and research practices.
- Create effective tools and resources to facilitate access for Indigenous communities, collectives and organizations to connect with researchers and students involved in Indigenous research, as well as to help identify potential researchers with whom they may wish to collaborate.
- Researchers enabled to develop mutually respectful research relationships with Indigenous Peoples
- Environments created to promote capacity-building and development of research communication networks with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities
- Research partnerships created between Indigenous communities, the granting agencies, and the broader re- search community
- Indigenous students have greater access to the work of Indigenous scientists and scholars
Supporting research priorities of Indigenous Peoples
Objective: A commitment to the revision and development of the federal granting agencies’ guidelines for Indigenous research
- Revise and introduce new merit review criteria to ensure that researchers are accountable to Indigenous communities, and that First Nations, Métis and Inuit knowledge systems (including ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies) are recognized and contribute to scientific/scholarly excellence.
- Champion and support Indigenous data management protocols to ensure community consent, access and ownership of Indigenous data and protection of Indigenous intellectual property rights.
- Strengthen adherence to Indigenous ethics and protocols to recognize the role of Elders in guiding and mentoring Indigenous research projects, and recognize the importance of regional engagement and consent.
- Increased leadership of Indigenous Peoples in research
- Recognition of Indigenous ways of knowing as an integral part of valid and authoritative research
- Support for Indigenous-led strategies and structures that address respectful and mutually beneficial data management and intellectual property rights in Indigenous research
- Establishment of clear guidelines for engaging respectfully with Indigenous communities, Elders and knowledge keepers
- Increased accountability of researchers to Indigenous communities
Creating greater funding accessibility to granting agency programs
Objective: A commitment to greater accessibility to funding
- Revise eligibility guidelines to ensure equitable access to re- search funding and infrastructure support for Indigenous organizations with a clear research man- date.
- Offer funding opportunities for Indigenous students providing increased and flexible support through scholarships and fellowships, including undergraduate research skills training and mentoring opportunities.
- Create effective tools and resources to build and strengthen understanding and user-friendliness of granting agency programs, including simplifying language, administration and application processes.
- First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples lead re- search projects for the benefit of their communities
- Successful education and career pathways enable Indigenous student success
- Specific tools in place that meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples
- Increased awareness, understanding and leadership of Indigenous researchers, students and community in research
Championing Indigenous leadership, self-determination and capacity building in research
Objective: A commitment to reconciliation and the decolonization of Indigenous Research
- Offer funding opportunities to strengthen capacity among Indigenous communities.
- Promote leadership of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in guiding and determining Indigenous research and research training.
- Require Indigenous cultural safety training at the federal granting agencies to strengthen understand- ing and respect of Indigenous perspectives, histories and worldviews within these agencies.
- Establish greater Indigenous representation at the federal granting agencies to include Indigenous voices in decision-making, notably at management levels.
- Create an Indigenous Leadership Circle to guide the implementation of the strategic directions outlined in this document
- Decolonization of Indigenous research through the development of clear structures and resources for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to build research capacity
- Indigenous leadership in decision-making and guidance to the granting agencies on Indigenous research issues
- Establishment of a sustainable and culturally safe space for Indigenous employees, ensuring employees have the necessary sensitivity, knowledge, and skills for more effective Indigenous relationship building
- Successfully addressing gaps in Indigenous representation at all levels through the establishment of sustainable hiring, retention and career progression strategies
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Objectives and Guiding principles
June 25, 2019 – The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has embedded four objectives into its activities to guide fair and equitable treatment, review, and evaluation of Aboriginal research and ensure appropriate talent support for Aboriginal scholars and students:
- Support research by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples;
- Recognize the scholarly contributions of Aboriginal knowledge systems, including their diverse ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies;
- Recognize that Aboriginal research requires sensitivity to ethical and other protocols that guide and govern how, why, and by whom research is conducted and knowledge is accessed and shared;
- Ensure that talent support for Aboriginal students and scholars across the social sciences and humanities aims to enhance Aboriginal capacity, no matter their field of study.
Guiding principles go further in addressing these objectives:
Recognize Aboriginal research as defined under the Definitions of Terms on SSHRC’s website.
Apply the standards set out in the second edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans and, in particular, Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.
Respect Aboriginal knowledge systems, including ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies, as important avenues for exploring the contours of Indigenous knowledge, contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration, and extending the boundaries of knowledge in western disciplines.
Affirm the important holistic and interdisciplinary contributions to human knowledge that are made by Aboriginal knowledge systems.
Support the talent of Aboriginal researchers and students, including through direct and indirect financial support for Aboriginal students.
Promote and facilitate fair and equitable merit review processes and procedures by including Aboriginal researchers and/or experts in Aboriginal research on adjudication committees reviewing Aboriginal research proposals.
Value collaborative and diverse relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples in Canada, and with Indigenous peoples in other parts of the world.
Recognize and respect the diverse protocols and processes appropriate to conducting research in Aboriginal communities with Aboriginal Peoples.
Accommodate the diversity of Aboriginal peoples and identities, each with their particular aspirations and occupying distinct cultural, historical, political, and socio-economic space
Encourage the participation of elders and knowledge keepers through recognition of their research contributions and the observance of knowledge specific protocols.
Ensure that all levels of SSHRC programming includes information, guidance, training, and tools that help build awareness and understanding about the importance and value of these principles.
Continue to identify important topics, issues, and questions relevant to Aboriginal research and to which the social sciences and humanities can contribute its knowledge, talent, and expertise through initiatives including Imagining Canada’s Future
National Inuit Strategy on Research
The relationship between Inuit and the research community is replete with examples of exploitation and racism. Research has largely functioned as a tool of colonialism, with the earliest scientific forays into Inuit Nunangat serving as precursors for the expansion of Canadian sovereignty and the dehumanization of Inuit.
Inuit in Canada are among the most studied Indigenous peoples on earth. The primary beneficiaries of Inuit Nunangat research continue to be researchers themselves, in the form of access to funding, data and information, research outcomes, and career advancement. Inuit remain largely marginalized from research governing bodies and in turn from experiencing the benefits of research.
The National Inuit Strategy on Research (NISR) identifies five priority areas in which coordinated action is necessary to facilitate Inuit Nunangat research that is efficacious, impactful, and meaningful to Inuit. It identifies practical steps to advance Inuit self- determination in research as the means for fostering respectful and beneficial research that serves the needs and priorities of Inuit.
Priority Area 1: Advance Inuit governance in research
- Achieve greater Inuit representation and decision-making in research governance, including the Tri-Council Agencies
- Reform research-related legislative, regulatory, and policy mechanisms impacting Inuit Nunangat
- Advance Inuit research priorities through Inuit Nunangat research governance bodies
- Ensure Inuit self-determination in establishing research governance bodies, including selection processes
- Establish accountable, coordinated, and transparent approaches to Inuit Nunangat research
Priority Area 2: Enhance the ethical conduct of research
- Hold institutions accountable for adhering to existing ethical research guidelines
- Develop Inuit-specific ethical research guidelines for all Inuit Nunangat research
- Create transparency in the review and oversight of research in Inuit Nunangat
- Broker Inuit partnerships with Research Ethics Boards
Priority Area 3: Align funding with Inuit research priorities
- Inuit Nunangat research funding reflects Inuit research priorities
- Enable research led by Inuit
- Ensure transparency, coordination, and accountability in the resourcing of Inuit Nunangat research
Priority Area 4: Ensure Inuit access, ownership, and control over data and information
- Advance Inuit self-determination in collecting, verifying, analyzing, and disseminating Inuit-specific data and information
- Invest in Inuit-led data and information technology and infrastructure
- Ensure ownership of Inuit data by Inuit-appointed entities
- Utilization of Inuktut (the Inuit language) in data platforms and information
Priority Area 5: Build capacity in Inuit Nunangat research
- Build human resource capacity in Inuit regions and communities to facilitate Inuit-led research
- Establish an Inuit Nunangat university
- Enhance built Inuit Nunangat research infrastructure
University Actions to Support Research Practices
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT)
Oct. 28, 2020 – The Canada Research Chairs Secretariat has awarded $500,000 to UQAT to fund the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Women’s Issues, which is held by Suzy Basile, a professor at UQAT’s School of Indigenous Studies. The Research Chair aims to highlight, document and map the experiences of Indigenous women from various parts of the world in governance, relations to the land, and research and knowledge on the environment.
The Chair’s research program will focus on the decolonization efforts necessary for the full and complete participation of Indigenous women in land governance, the strengthening of their capacities through the study of their relationship to the environment and the advancement of their society.
In addition to the funding provided by the Government of Canada, the Chair benefits from significant support from the UQAT Foundation through a five-year financial contribution of $100,000 entirely dedicated to scholarship.
University of British Columbia
Aug. 31, 2020 – NationTalk – On August 11, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and an Indigenous Knowledge Protocol Agreement (IK Protocol) were signed by the Tŝilhqot’in Nation and the University of British Columbia. says Chief Myers Ross. A key feature of the MOU and IK Protocol is to ensure that research is undertaken with cultural safety, an approach that recognizes and addresses systemic power imbalances and fosters a culture free of racism and discrimination, thus creating a safe arena for Indigenous partners. In addition, the agreements recognize the intellectual property rights of the Tŝilhqot’in knowledge and solidify the Nation’s data ownership and control. Further, the MOU establishes a foundation for future research collaborations that incorporate Tŝilhqot’in knowledge, community needs and sustainable environmental practices and opportunities within Tŝilhqot’in Nen (lands).
- the Indigenous Research Support Initiative (IRSI) at UBC provides professional research support and services to Indigenous communities and university researchers in order that they may undertake collaborative projects based on community-led interests, reciprocal relationships, and principles of mutual accountability and understanding.
Located in Syilx Okanagan Nation territory at UBC’s Okanagan campus, the Centre for Environmental Assessment Research (CEAR) at UBC supports research about environmental assessment (EA) processes and methods and helps integrate this information into practice. Research conducted and supported by CEAR contributes to resource development by furthering knowledge about the role that EA plays in helping to advance natural resource management practices that benefit Canadians.
University of Saskatchewan
Mar. 14, 2019 – The Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) and the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) have developed an in-person training module for Health researchers, ”Building Research Relationships with Indigenous Communities” (BRRIC), is the first of its kind in Canada. It seeks to provide researchers with the basic tools and knowledge to build meaningful research relationships in a good way with Indigenous peoples and their communities. BRRIC also incorporates traditional Indigenous knowledge and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. It is designed to provide researchers with the necessary policies, frameworks, and Indigenous ethical standards needed to respectfully engage with Indigenous communities and patients including
- the history of Indigenous health and research in Saskatchewan;
- existing policies and frameworks guiding research with Indigenous communities such as OCAP™, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, Tri-Council Policy Statement Chapter 9 and
- protocol on how to respectfully and meaningfully engage communities in research projects
April 1, 2020 – Dr. Caroline Tait, a USask medical anthropologist and member of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S), has been awarded $1.5 million from CIHR to lead the national centre that will co-ordinate health research and training with the leads of the eight other regional Indigenous health research networks.
As well, with $3.5-million from CIHR over five years and in-kind support from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and MN-S, Tait will lead the Saskatchewan NEIHR network to foster health research within Indigenous communities, working in partnership with the FSIN, MN-S, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, and a team of more than 60 researchers and community partners.
University of Victoria
April 20, 2020 – The BC Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR), based at the University of Victoria, aims to increase and accelerate Indigenous-led research through key partnerships, programs and supports.
Charlotte Loppie, an internationally recognized leader in Indigenous health and professor with UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, was awarded $3.5 million over five years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which is funding nine networks across Canada. The network will support an environment where First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples can set their own research priorities, have equitable access to funding and work collaboratively with researchers, while foregrounding Indigenous knowledge systems and approaches to research. https://www.uvic.ca/news/topics/2020+indigenous-health-research+media-release
June 26, 2020 – The Wabanaki-Labrador Indigenous Health Research Network (WLN) will be hosted at Dalhousie University in partnership with Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, Inuit and Innu communities and organizations and with academic institutions stretching across all four Atlantic provinces. WLN will receive $3.5M in operational funding for 5 years with possibility of renewal for a further 10 years.
The university’s Board of Regents recently approved Memorial’s “Research Impacting Indigenous Groups” policy – the first of its kind known in Canadian universities. The policy is designed to ensure Memorial University researchers are accountable to the existing research, priorities and ethics processes of Indigenous groups. It requires researchers to engage with Indigenous groups at the very start of research to put them on a good path as projects develop. It meets and exceeds the Tri-Council Policy Statement on the Ethical Conduct for Research, Chapter 9, Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.
University of Calgary
Oct. 30, 2020 – Indigenous Research Support Team (IRST) is an advisory entity that provides guidance on Indigenous research and scholarship as well as opportunities that support culturally responsive and collaborative research. IRST will be the first point of contact for all UCalgary researchers doing any work within the broader Indigenous landscape.
University of Alberta: Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research
Métis Nation of Alberta and the University of Alberta renew a long-standing partnership to provide quality education, training and research to the Métis people of Alberta. The Memorandum of Understanding honours the ongoing relationship between the MNA, RLI and the U of A, while also commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research (RCMR), which was established May 31, 2011 at the U of A as the research arm for the RLI and the MNA, and as Canada’s first Métis-specific academic research centre.
The new agreement will advance several post-secondary goals, including:
- continuing to conduct research specific to Métis concerns through the RCMR
- supporting Métis students in attaining post-secondary education
- goal of becoming a post-secondary institution offering courses and certification, to result in credit transfer agreements with the U of A
- Increasing the number of Métis academics, fellowships and employees at all levels of the U of A through partnership agreements between the U of A and RLI, as well as Métis course development.
The agreement also enables the RCMR to continue taking on high-calibre research projects and creating events that build knowledge about Métis peoples for both Métis and non-Métis audiences. Supported in this next phase by funding from RLI and the MNA, the RCMR serves as an expansive academic research program specifically designed for Métis concerns, including historical research and Métis rights, research and analysis capacity on general policy areas such as health, labour, land use and resources, and contemporary Métis issues.
“The new MOU not only strengthens the relationship that already exists between the MNA/RLI and the University of Alberta, as well, it ensures the sustainability of the RCMR as a leading-edge research unit engaged on a research journey that deconstructs old research frameworks and supports the co-creation of knowledge with the Métis nation,” said Nathalie Kermoal, Director of the RCMR and U of A Faculty of Native Studies‘ associate dean academic. Since its inception, the RCMR has focused on forging local, provincial and national connections with Métis communities, building research capacity to advance Métis-specific research, and training and employing student researchers.
Official Federal Government Response: Sept, 5, 2019
In establishing a national research program that advances understanding of reconciliation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and its partners must consider and incorporate the perspectives and knowledge systems of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. Since 2016, the council has engaged with Indigenous community leaders, students and researchers and other partners to help identify the broad principles of this program. These partners include:
- the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners and researchers
- representatives from postsecondary institutions
- other federal granting agencies
Since 2016, SSHRC has also been engaging with the relevant government departments and agencies to develop the response to Call to Action 65. These include Indigenous Services Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, Global Affairs, Environment Canada and Canadian Environmental Assessment.
SSHRC organized sessions and workshops at major academic conferences and funded knowledge synthesis activities to generate discussions to help frame key elements of national research program on reconciliation. This included sessions at the 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Ryerson University and the International Gender Summit in Montréal that addressed the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge systems, gender issues and community-led research.
In July 2018, SSHRC released a summary report highlighting results of 28 knowledge synthesis grants as well as discussions at 2 major forums that addressed the knowledge systems, experiences and aspirations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Between fiscal years 2011 to 2012 and 2018 to 2019, 22% of SSHRC’s Partnership Grants were focused on Indigenous research undertaken by and with Indigenous peoples.
In October 2017, the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) was established. The CRCC reaffirmed its commitment to the Call to Action 65 and set out a priority for a national dialogue to identify new models for research and research training that would increase the capacity of Indigenous communities to conduct research and partner with the broader research community.
For Inuit, co-construction will be guided by the National Inuit Research Strategy of March 2018.
In Budget 2018, $3.8 million was committed to develop a strategic research plan that identifies new ways of doing research with Indigenous communities, including strategies to grow the capacity of Indigenous communities to conduct research and partner with the broader research community. SSHRC is administering this initiative in collaboration with the other granting agencies. An engagement plan was developed to meet the objectives of the Budget 2018 allocation. A draft strategic plan that outlines 2 streams is currently being co-developed with Indigenous communities:
- stream A: featured a series of roundtables and workshops with First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members, organized in partnership with Indigenous organizations. This stream also included engagement through an online platform and the convening of the Connection grant holders (see below) with Indigenous community members at a national dialogue held in March 2019. A total of 14 regional events took place between July 2018 and March 2019.
- stream B: featured a special call for Indigenous Research and Reconciliation Connection grants awarded to Indigenous organizations and to scholars to support their leadership in organizing their respective engagement activities and to develop position papers. A total of 116 grants were awarded, with the majority of awards being granted to Indigenous not-for-profit organizations. Position papers were received in February and March 2019. In July 2018, SSHRC hired a director of Indigenous Research to oversee the implementation of the engagement plan and to lead the co-creation of the strategic research plan that will make recommendations for a new Indigenous research and research training model.