Research Ethics Office

Research Involving First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples of Canada

First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities have unique histories, cultures and traditions. They also share some core values such as reciprocity – the obligation to give something back in return for gifts received – which they advance as the necessary basis for relationships that can benefit both Aboriginal and research communities.

The landscape of research involving Aboriginal peoples is rapidly changing. Growing numbers of First Nations, Inuit and Métis scholars are contributing to research as academics and community researchers. Communities are becoming better informed about the risks and benefits of research. Technological developments allowing rapid distribution of information are presenting both opportunities and challenges regarding the governance of information.

The University of Alberta relies on TCPS2 and the principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) to guide its ethical review of applications which seek to engage and enroll Indigenous participants.

Where the research is likely to affect the welfare of an Indigenous community, or communities, to which prospective participants belong, researchers shall seek engagement with the relevant community. The conditions under which engagement is required by a researcher include, but are not limited to:

  • research conducted on First Nations, Inuit or Métis lands;
  • recruitment criteria that include Indigenous identity as a factor for the entire study or for a subgroup in the study;
  • research that seeks input from participants regarding a community’s cultural heritage, artefacts, traditional knowledge or unique characteristics;
  • research in which Indigenous identity or membership in an Indigenous community is used as a variable for the purpose of analysis of the research data; and
  • interpretation of research results that will refer to Indigenous communities, peoples, language, history or culture.

The nature and extent of community engagement in a project shall be determined jointly by the researcher and the relevant community, and shall be appropriate to community characteristics and the nature of the research. The REB will seek evidence of this prior to approving an application, as such, we encourage researchers to consider this BEFORE making an application to an REB.

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