University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Research leaders at UCalgary deepen their understanding of Indigenous approaches to scholarship

Becoming aware of how research affects Indigenous communities and learning about Indigenous ethics is imperative to ensuring that research-intensive institutions like UCalgary are addressing reconciliation and transformation in a useful, productive, and meaningful way. UCalgary's Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, encourages researchers working with Indigenous groups to rethink how information is gathered, such as through Indigenous knowledge keepers, storytelling and oral traditions, and how research is disseminated.

Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) is an Indigenous-based research ethics guideline document. Online OCAP training is now available for researchers, focusing on how research processes that impact and involve Indigenous communities should be conducted through a framework of traditional cultural knowledge. The OCAP training is developed in partnership with Algonquin College and consists of learning modules such as Community Harm, and Barriers and Levers, and includes testing prep and a final exam.

Godley and Williams know that, historically, institutions have had a very rigid Eurocentric way of approaching ethics. Therefore, the Intercultural Capacity Building Grant is being applied to strengthen awareness of Indigenous research methodologies and ethics by offering OCAP training to ethics board members and staff.

“The training provides an important foundation as we evolve to better support Indigenous research,” says Williams.

Before the Intercultural Capacity Building Grant was even on the radar, the CFREB had already been in discussions with Indigenous representatives and taking initiatives to learn about research ethics through an Indigenous lens. When Godley heard about the grant through the Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement) she immediately contacted Williams about applying for the grant to provide OCAP training for ethics staff and board members.

One of the distinctions between traditional research ethics and Indigenous research ethics is that Indigenous research begins with first building relationships with the leaders and members of the community. “Early relationship development is rarely considered in ethics applications,” says Godley.