Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Research involving First Nations

Since we've been talking a lot about research methods and ethics lately, I wanted to share this resource we used in another class I'm talking.  It's a webpage from the Government of Canada website entitled "Research involving the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples of Canada.  It recognizes that most research on these communities is performed by non-aboriginal people so it offers a set of guidelines in order to conduct research respectfully and fairly.  It also outlines the rules of intellectual property in these situations, and describes how to get the most out of research.  I found it very interesting. Here's the link

Government of Canada. "Research involving the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples of Canada", 2012. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. Hi Emily,

    Thanks for sharing this link to the TCPS guidelines! I’d be really interesting in hearing more about how this resource came up in your other class and the discussion surrounding it.

    The TCPS guidelines relating to intellectual property were particularly interesting to me, because I was expecting this policy document to go into a bit more detail regarding the fundamental differences that often exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities when it comes to the concept of intellectual property.

    In the preamble of the TCPS document, it is noted that non-Aboriginal researchers have often used approaches that do not generally reflect Aboriginal world views. However, apart from a general definition of traditional knowledge and a short warning that researchers must be careful not to misappropriate traditional knowledge, there isn’t much discussion or background information with respect to how intellectual property is viewed in Aboriginal communities.

    This was a bit surprising to me, since intellectual property considerations often fundamentally shape how research results may be used.

    Professor Jane Anderson succinctly sums up how intellectual property may be viewed differently in her paper on Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge & Intellectual Property (see

    “Intellectual property law is largely European in derivation and promotes particular cultural interpretations of knowledge, ownership, authorship, private property and monopoly privilege. Indigenous peoples do not necessarily interpret or conceptualize their knowledge systems and knowledge practices in the same way or only through these concepts.”

    In the TCPS discussion of intellectual property, I would have expected more explicit reference to such differences because they can have far reaching consequences for research involving non-Aboriginal researchers and Aboriginal communities. Perhaps it’s necessary to remain fairly general in a document like the TCPS, but some more detail in the IP portion of the policy would be helpful in ensuring appropriate research designs and methods when conducting research involving Aboriginal peoples.

    - Rex