Reconciliation and Indigenization: What Could This Mean for Research?

You may have noticed increasing commitments to reconciliation and indigenization, including in the University of Guelph’s new Strategic Plan 2022-27. But what do these terms mean? And what are the implications for research?

A good place to begin is with reconciliation. The Calls to Action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released in 2015 ask Canadians to  acknowledge the reality of Indigenous peoples’ treatment by addressing the history of residential schools and their ongoing impacts. Learning about the past helps ensure it is not repeated, creating a beneficial legacy for all Canadians. Reconciliation also means implementing meaningful change to improve life for Indigenous peoples by supporting healing and ensuring equity and respect for Indigenous rights.

Post-secondary institutions have the power to help foster reconciliation by embracing the incorporation of Indigenous perspectives into teaching, learning, and research. This does not mean replacing or merging Indigenous knowledge or research methodologies with Western approaches. Instead, it involves creating an inclusive academic environment that genuinely welcomes and values Indigenous knowledge, people, and theories[1].

Indigenization of research is not one-size-fits-all. It means different things in different contexts. In some research settings, Indigenous and Western knowledge and research priorities are presented side by side and then woven together to create new collaborative ways of thinking and doing research.  An example of this is UofG’s own Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership. In other contexts, Indigenous knowledge and research priorities are the primary focus, such as in the work of UofG Canada Research Chair Dr. Kim Anderson whose research centers urban Indigenous communities.

Finally, research that is not explicitly with or about Indigenous peoples can be indigenized by seeking out diverse Indigenous perspectives and reflecting on the implications for the design of the research, thereby ensuring greater relevance and responsiveness to the needs and priorities of Indigenous peoples. A good example of this is the Indigenous engagement work of the Canadian Brain Research Strategy.  Indigenization, therefore, could mean different things in different contexts. As we increase our commitment to indigenization we walk along the path toward reconciliation.

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


[1] Koleszar-Green, R. (2019). “What Can I Do?”: Teaching Indigenous Content in an Era of Reconciliation. Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice, 7(1), 68–81.