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Decolonizing research: Indigenous people must participate and own the results

Updated: May 12

Written by Kathy Waddell


This was from one of my University blogs... I still love it.

The first things that came to mind when thinking about this week’s blog was questions. I had many and I’ve whittled it down to the most interesting answers I found.


What does “decolonizing research” really mean? When Indigenous peoples become the researchers and not merely the researched, the activity of research is transformed. Questions are framed differently, priorities are ranked differently, problems are defined differently, and people participate on different terms. (Smith, 1999, p. 193)

Are Eurocentric research methods relevant to First Nations people in Canada? Chilisa (2011) states that “Euro-Western research methodologies do not embrace indigenous knowledge production or systems; instead these methodologies often disconnect, exclude and silence”.

Can research harm the subjects of the research? Drawson et al. suggest that researchers use caution in interpreting research data. “Many researchers are still presenting potentially harmful findings regarding Indigenous Peoples by overlooking the importance of context in large data set analysis” (Drawson et al, 2017).

Are there ethical methodologies that can protect vulnerable populations? Thank the creator…YES! I found this fabulous website that has so many interesting articles on decolonized research methodologies: http://www.psychsoma.co.za/qualitative_inquiry_growt/postcolonial-research-paradigm/. One paradigm that resonated with me “The 4 R’s: responsibility, respect, reciprocity, and rights. http://www.psychsoma.co.za/qualitative_inquiry_growt/2012/04/four-rs-responsibility-respect-reciprocity-and-rights.html. Closer to home (Canada), First Nations researchers can look to OCAP to begin the work of decolonizing research. Established in 1998 during a meeting of the National Steering Committee, OCAP ensures that First Nations people are the owners of research done in community. It also ensures that the research benefits the community. OCAP is an acronym for: Ownership, Control, Access & Possession. You can read more about OCAP here: http://fnigc.ca/ocap.html “OCAP® is a registered trademark of the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC)”

References: Chilisa, B. 2011. Indigenous Research Methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage. Drawson, A., Mushquash, A., & Mushquash, C. (2017). First Nations Community Well-Being Research and Large Data Sets: A Respectful Caution. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 12(2), 15-24. doi:DOI:10.18357 Smith, L.T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. New York: Palgrave. The First Nations Principles of OCAP. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2017, from http://fnigc.ca/ocap.html Related We are ALL storytellers Indigenous Perspectives on Emotional Intelligence Social Sciences policy bores the pants off me... Published by books, dogs, life:

I am an avid reader. I also love writing...but prefer to read other's ideas. I have two fur babies (Iggy & Quinn - chihuahuas). They are life. I have actual human babies as well.. (Nic & Aly - who bring me light and abundance). I am a Metis Woman. Proud and inquisitive. I am spiritual, full of gratitude, and love for all creator's creations. View all posts by books, dogs, life

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