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Indigenous Research

Research ethics

​Ethical Research involving Indigenous Peoples

So… what is this resource?

This collection of documents and contact information act as a resource that can be used by members of the university community (researchers/students/professors/etc.) when conducting research involving Indigenous communities – either directly or indirectly. It is important to know exactly who is impacted by your research to know exactly how to proceed when applying for ethics approval from the relevant Research Ethics Board (REB). This is by no means an exhausting listing of documents relating to ethical approaches of research involving Indigenous peoples, but it can certainly act as a starting point for researchers who may be in the field for the first time.


But… why is this any different than doing research with any human population?

To quote Thomas King, an Indigenous writer who published the critically acclaimed novel "The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America" in 2012, "most of us think history is the past. It's not. History is the stories we tell about the past. That's all it is. Stories." The significance of this quote is embedded in the perspective of the stories that tell the tale of history. For example, King (2012) recounts the historic account of a massacre that Native Americans allegedly committed in Idaho in 1861; believed as true insofar as being immortalized by a plaque in the location. However, King (2012) cautions the reader to dig deeper into the "facts," and eventually reveals that if one examines the story from different perspectives, it is more likely that the massacre is fiction disguised as truth and simply accepted as such.

I use this small anecdote to introduce research ethics in an Indigenous context because as King (2012) argues, a researcher who is conducting a study involving human participants to better understand a phenomenon or concept is essentially collecting a variety of stories and subsequently making sense of these stories. Research ethics, in this regard, act as the regulating body of guidelines that researchers can use to gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives present in their research. While not fool proof, undergoing a rigorous ethics approval process can vet a research project for possible oversights that exist inherently in academia – a world founded on colonial principles that have historically perpetuated the marginalization and disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples.


Ok… so I can't just submit my application to the Grenfell Campus Research Ethics Board (GC-REB) without doing extra work?

If your research involves Indigenous peoples either directly or indirectly, it is important that thorough reflection accords with chapter 9 in the TCPS 2. This resource can point researchers in the right direction when beginning to organize an application for ethics approval. It is also important for researchers to investigate relevant research ethic's boards outside of the GC-REB. For example, many Indigenous communities both in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada have specific guidelines for research conducted within their communities. A researcher has a duty to consult these guidelines for ethical research and may even be required to apply for ethics approval in the relevant community separate to an application for ethics approval from the GC-REB.

This resource has been produced in partnership with the Indigenous Resource Centre at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. A list of references can be found at the end for all the documents that are available in the following sections and any further questions should either be directed to the Indigenous Resource Centre, your supervisor (for students), or the GC-REB.

Important Links:

  1. Chapter 9 of the TCPS 2 (Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada)

  2. United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

  3. NL Health Research Ethics Board

  4. NunatuKavut Community Council Research Advisory Committee – Guidelines for Community Engagement with NunatuKavut

  5. Nain Research Centre (Kaujisapvinga) – Nunatsiavut Government Research Application Guide and Checklist

  6. The Aurora Research Institute (Inuvik, NWT) – Doing Research in the Northwest Territories

  7. Government of Yukon – Guidebook on Scientific Research in the Yukon

  8. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Guide on Research and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge

  9. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Negotiation Research Relationships with Inuit Communities: A Guide for Researchers

  10. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Negotiating Research Relationship: A Guide for Communities

  11. Métis Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization – Principles of Ethical Métis Research


Important Contact Information for Indigenous communities and groups in Newfoundland and Labrador


Nunatsiavut Research Advisory Committee

Inuit Research Advisor for Nunatsiavut

Nunatsiavut Government

17 Sandbanks Road, P.O. Box 70

Nain, NL A0P 1L0

Main line: (709) 922-2380 Fax: (709) 922-2931

E-mail: carla_pamak@nunatsiavut.com

Website: http://www.nunatsiavut.com


NunatuKavut Research Advisory Committee

370 Hamilton River Road

P.O. Box 460, Stn. C

Happy Valley-Goose Bay

NL, Canada A0P 1C0

Tel: 1-877-896-0592

Fax: 1-709-896-0594

Attention: Darlene Wall E-mail: dwall@nunatukavut.ca


Innu – Natuashish community or Innu leadership approval

Mushuau Innu Band Council

PO Box 107

Natuashish, Labrador

Canada, A0P 1A0

Telephone: 1-709-478-8827

Fax: 1-709-478-8936


Innu –Sheshatshiu community or Innu leadership approval

Sheshatshiu Band Council

PO Box 160

North West River, Labrador

NL, Canada, A0P 1M0

Telephone: 1-709-497-8720

Fax: 1-709-497-8757

Conne River Health and Social Services, Miawpukek First Nation

Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi

P.O. Box 10

Conne River, NL

A0H 1J0

Telephone: 1-709-882-2470

Toll Free: 1-866-882-2470

Fax: 1-709-882-2292



Department of Heath and Social Services

Theresa O'keefe

email: theresaokeefe@crhss.com

Ph: (709) 882-5102

Fax: (709) 882-2836


Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band

3 Church Street

Corner Brook, NL

A2H 2Z4

Phone: (709) 634-0996

Fax: (709) 639-3997




Assembly of First Nations, Environmental Stewardship Unit. (2009). Ethics in First

Nations Research. Retrieved from Assembly of First Nations website:



Assembly of First Nations. (n.d.). First Nations Ethics Guide on Research and Aboriginal

Traditional Knowledge. Retrieved from Assembly of First Nations website:



Brunger, F. (2013). Guidelines for research involving Aboriginal communities in

Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved from the Health Research Ethics

Authority website: https://achh.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Guide_Ethics_NFLD-and-Labrador.pdf


Cultural Services Branch, Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon.

(2008). Guidebook on Scientific Research in the Yukon. Retrieved from the

Government of Yukon website:



Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (n.d.). Negotiating Research Relationships: A Guide for

Communities. Retrieved from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami website:



Nain Research Centre. (n.d.). Nunatsiavut Government Research Application Guide and

Checklist. Retrieved from Nain Research Centre website:



National Aboriginal Health Organization. (2010). Principles of Ethical Métis Research.

Retrieved from National Aboriginal Health Organization website:



Nickels, S., Shirley, J., Laidler, G. (2006). Negotiating Research Relationships with Inuit

Communities: A Guide for Researchers. Retrieved from Nunavut Research

Institute website: 



NunatuKavut Community Council Research Advisory Committee. (2013). Guidelines for

Community Engagement with NunatuKavut. Retrieved from NunatuKavut

Regional website:



The Aurora Research Institute. (1996). Doing Research in the Northwest Territories: A

Guide for Researchers Applying for a Scientific Research License. Retrieved from

the Aurora Research Institute website:



UNGA, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP, 61st

Sess, 107th Plen Mtg, UN Doc A/61/L.67 (13 September 2007)


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