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 StatusAug. 17, 2020IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020IN 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.

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.

Intended Outcomes

  • 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.

Intended Outcomes

  • 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.

Intended Outcomes

  • 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


  1. Offer funding opportunities to strengthen capacity among Indigenous communities.
  2. Promote leadership of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in guiding and determining Indigenous research and research training.
  3. 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.
  4. Establish greater Indigenous representation at the federal granting agencies to include Indigenous voices in decision-making, notably at management levels.
  5. Create an Indigenous Leadership Circle to guide the implementation of the strategic directions outlined in this document

Intended Outcomes.

  • 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

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


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.