Indigenous Research

Indigenous research emerges from Indigenous worldviews, languages, and interconnected relationships with the land and all beings. It integrates the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of knowledge gathering and sharing. Indigenous research methodologies underscore the importance of relational accountability, and the need to ground research in community context while adhering to the principles of respect, reciprocity and responsibility (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991; Wilson, 2008; Kovach, 2009; Tuhiwai Smith, 2012, Restoule, McGregor & Johnston, 2018).

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (n.d.) defines Indigenous research as “Research in any field or discipline that is conducted by, grounded in or engaged with First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present.”

Extending the Rafters

“Extending the Rafters” – the final report of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (2016) – asserts the rights of Indigenous communities and individuals to be equal partners and beneficiaries in a culturally-appropriate research that addresses the needs of Indigenous peoples, and highlights the importance of building reciprocal relationships grounded in meaningful consultations and informed consent.

Research Ethics

Researchers and Topics

Indigenous-centred research at Queen’s spans a variety of disciplines including health sciences, geography, arts, engineering, law, and education. Many faculty members conduct community-engaged, participatory research with projects focusing on Indigenous literatures, visual arts, film, media and history, Indigenous music cultures, Indigenous language revitalization, Indigenous social and environmental justice and health equity, and Indigenous entrepreneurship among other topics of interest.

Research Topics

Indigenous Research Centre

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives has been exploring the feasibility of establishing an Indigenous Research Centre. Taking shape under the guidance of Queen’s Aboriginal Council and community partners, the Centre would provide a culturally-safe space for Indigenous community members, Indigenous and allied faculty, students and staff to honour Indigenous knowledge systems and work collaboratively across disciplines and ways of knowing while fostering relationship building both within the university setting and beyond.

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives will continue to coordinate efforts aimed at creating the Indigenous Research Centre through planning sessions, discussion groups and consultation events with Indigenous partners and campus community.

[illustration by Portia Chapman of Wisdom]

Dawson, A., Toombs, E., & Mushquash, C. (2017). Indigenous research methods: a systematic review. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 8(2).

Gaudry, A., & Lorenz, D. (2018). Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian academy. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 14(3), 218–227.

Kirkness, V. J., & Barnhardt, R. (1991). First Nations and higher education: the four r's – respect, relevance, reciprocity, responsibility. Journal of American Indian Education, 30(3), 1–15.

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: characteristics, conversations and contexts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Queen’s University Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force. (2016). Yakwanastahentéha aankenjigemi extending the rafters: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force final report [PDF, 4.17MB]

Restoule, J., McGregor, D., & Johnston, R. (2018). Indigenous research: theories, practices, and relationships. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Government of Canada. (1996). Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

Government of Canada. (2019). Setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada [PDF, 19.5MB]

Government of Canada. (n.d). Indigenous research statement of principles.

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books.

Schnarch, B. (2004). Ownership, control, access and possession (OCAP) or self-determination applied to research. Journal of Aboriginal Health, 1(1), 80–95.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

United Nations. (2008). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [PDF, 0.1MB]

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: indigenous research methods. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.