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Engaging with Indigenous Communities

When reaching out to Indigenous communities for research purposes, please be mindful that, at this time, communities are collectively grieving and mourning the discovery of mass graves across former Indian Residential School sites. Please acknowledge the ongoing impacts of trauma and respect First Nations protocols.

Please consider the important responsibility of researchers in building their own foundational knowledge of culturally safe and trauma-informed research practice prior to reaching out to Indigenous communities and FNHA via Research Knowledge Exchange at FNHA (rke@fnha.ca). It is also the researchers’ responsibility to demonstrate a commitment to Indigenous Cultural Safety while conducting research. This will take time and effort, which is essential for creating meaningful relationships with Indigenous peoples.

We outline some basic resources as a starting point to guide researchers:

FNHA Culturally Safe and Trauma-Informed Practices for Researchers During COVID-19: COVID-19 is significantly affecting First Nations communities in BC – and bringing back memories of devastating past pandemics. Learning from history, we know that research with First Nations people and communities requires careful attention. During this time of emergency, when many are experiencing uncertainty and stress, it is essential to take a culturally safe, trauma-informed approach to work with First Nations. Cultural safety is achieved when the research process results in an environment free of racism and discrimination and people feel safe participating in research. This means respectful engagement, adhering to Nation-based protocols, and recognizing and striving to address power imbalances inherent in research by creating space for First Nations health and healing philosophies and practices to ground projects.

FHNA First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness: ​​​The First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness aims to visually depict and describe the First Nations Health Authority Vision: Healthy, Self-Determining and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families and Communities.

FNHA 7 Directives: Through hundreds of regional and sub-regional caucus meetings, and Health Partnership Workbooks, First Nations in BC have developed the 7 Directives. These directives describe the fundamental standards and instructions for the new health governance relationship and are shared by the FNHA​, the FNHC (First Nations Health Council) and the FNHDA (First Nations Health Directors Association). 

BCPSQC Culturally Safe Engagement: What Matters to Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) Patient Partners?: This document was created from the voices of Indigenous patient partners in June 2021 and is written using their words. Partners were asked what mattered to them when participating in Indigenous culturally safe patient engagement opportunities. Eight key principles, starting with Awareness & Understanding and ending with Listen, emerged along with a series of recommended actions. As you consider your role in creating a safer space, please be curious and open to learning as you engage Indigenous voices.

Indigenous Community Research Partnerships (ICRP): As an online open education training resource, ICRP is designed to assist researchers who are new to research in partnerships with Inuit, Métis and First Nations (“Indigenous”) communities, or who are researchers-in-training, to: operationalize required regulatory policy requirements and research directives; ensure equitable inclusion of Indigenous and Western-oriented knowledge in research systems; and, in the case of Indigenous-specific enquiry, to privilege or give primacy to Indigenous ways of knowing and doing.

BC NEIHR Indigenous Cultural Safety in Research (ICSR) Framework: This document will guide all the BC NEIHR Indigenous cultural safety work within the context of research over the next few years.

CARE Principles of Indigenous Data Governance: The current movement toward open data and open science does not fully engage with Indigenous Peoples rights and interests. Existing principles within the open data movement (e.g. FAIR: findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) primarily focus on characteristics of data that will facilitate increased data sharing among entities while ignoring power differentials and historical contexts. The emphasis on greater data sharing alone creates a tension for Indigenous Peoples who are also asserting greater control over the application and use of Indigenous data and Indigenous Knowledge for collective benefit. This includes the right to create value from Indigenous data in ways that are grounded in Indigenous worldviews and realize opportunities within the knowledge economy. The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance are people and purpose-oriented, reflecting the crucial role of data in advancing Indigenous innovation and self-determination. These principles complement the existing FAIR principles encouraging open and other data movements to consider both people and purpose in their advocacy and pursuits.

OCAP®: The First Nations principles of OCAP® establish how First Nations’ data and information will be collected, protected, used, or shared. Standing for ownership, control, access and possession, OCAP® is a tool to support strong information governance on the path to First Nations data sovereignty. Given the diversity within and across Nations, the principles will be expressed and asserted in line with a Nation’s respective world view, traditional knowledge, and protocols. If you work with First Nations, consider how you interact with First Nations data. OCAP® asserts that First Nations alone have control over data collection processes in their communities, and that they own and control how this information can be stored, interpreted, used, or shared.

Additional Resource Suggestions:

  • Routledge Studies in Indigenous Peoples and Policy: Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Policy (Edited by Maggie Walter, Tahu Kukutai, Stephanie Russo Carroll, Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear)

  • Indigenous Statistics: A Quantitative Research Methodology (Written by Maggie Walter, Chris Andersen)

  • Nindokiikayencikewin: to seek learning or Knowledges - Indigenous Knowledges & Data Governance Protocol (Indigenous Innovation Initiative)

  • Indigenous Research Methodologies (Written by Bagele Chilisa)

  • Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Written by Gregory Younging)

  • Decolonizing Data: Unsettling Conversations about Social Research Methods (Written by Jacqueline M. Quinless)

  • Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (Written by Shawn Wilson)

  • Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (Written by Linda Tuhiwai Smith)

  • Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts, Second Edition (Written by Margaret Kovach)

  • Indigenous Research Ethics: Claiming Research Sovereignty Beyond Deficit and the Colonial Legacy (Edited by Lily George, Juan Tauri, Lindsey Te Ata O Tu MacDonald)