Indigenous Research: Getting Started

If you’re curious about what is involved in ethical collaborative research with Indigenous peoples, here are a few tips and links to other resources to get you started.

The first thing to realize is that there is no one single approach, because working with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada, or Indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, requires a flexible approach and openness to listening and learning about the specific needs, expectations, and priorities of the groups, communities, or organizations involved.

  1. Start by educating yourself about the group’s particular interests, priorities and ideas based on what they may share publicly on their website.
  2. Learn about the traditional territories and treaty lands associated with the group, their history and land claims status.
  3. Read applicable literature by Indigenous scholars and about Indigenous methodologies. Learn to respect and value the sources of knowledge within communities and groups that have, until very recently, been marginalized by Western academia.
  4. Seek to understand how colonialism makes building trusting relationships difficult, yet essential for any research collaboration. Be prepared to work patiently and respectfully over time to establish a relationship.
  5. Respect Indigenous sovereignty and the right to self-determination. One way to demonstrate respect might be by inviting key members of the group to a funded workshop to initiate conversations about the project from the beginning, rather than presenting a fully formed project for input.
  6. Become familiar with the various protocols and principles that have been developed to help guide the ethical conduct of Indigenous research and management of data: First Nations OCAP®Principles, USAI Research Framework, or the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance.

Align your research with key commitments sent out in the University of Guelph’s Indigenous Initiatives Strategy – Bi-Naagwad – It Comes into View:

Additional recommended sources of information include:

For additional information, feedback, or questions, please contact Joanne Garcia-Moores at