1. Tri-council policy statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
Section 6 – Research involving Aboriginal Peoples
When research involves Aboriginal individuals, researchers and REBs should consider the
interests of the Aboriginal group, when any of the following considerations applies:
a. Property or private information belonging to the group as a whole is studied or used;
b. Leaders of the group are involved in the identification of potential participants;
c. The research is designed to analyze or describe characteristics of the group; or
d. Individuals are selected to speak on behalf of, or otherwise represent, the group
The considerations above outline the proposed situations in which REBs should review the need
for involving the community in research involving Aboriginal Peoples. Item (a) includes cultural
properties 8 as understood by the Aboriginal community in question and may include human
tissue (Section 10). Item (b) covers research where the group is asked to assist in recruiting its
members, or to give official approval and permit access to their property. Together, items (c) and
(d) would include research in which members are interviewed as spokespersons for the group as
a whole. The central issue for discussion is when it is legitimate for researchers to interview
individuals in their own right as individuals, without regard to the interests of the group as a
whole and without seeking permission from any group authority or spokesperson or, conversely,
when the approval of the community as a whole should be required.
Researchers and REBs involved with Aboriginal communities should consider the following
"good practices," which have been drawn from the documents referred to above: 9
To respect the culture, traditions and knowledge of the Aboriginal group;
To conceptualize and conduct research with Aboriginal group as a partnership;
To consult members of the group who have relevant expertise;
To involve the group in the design of the project;
To examine how the research may be shaped to address the needs and concerns of the
To make best efforts to ensure that the emphasis of the research, and the ways chosen to
conduct it, respect the many viewpoints of different segments of the group in question;
To provide the group with information respecting the following:
o Protection of the Aboriginal group's cultural estate and other property;
o The availability of a preliminary report for comment;
o The potential employment by researchers of members of the community
appropriate and without prejudice;
o Researchers' willingness to cooperate with community institutions;
o Researchers' willingness to deposit data, working papers and related materials in
an agreed-upon repository.
To acknowledge in the publication of the research results the various viewpoints of the
community on the topics researched; and
To afford the community an opportunity to react and respond to the research findings
before the completion of the final report, in the final report or even in all relevant
publications (see Section 2 on information disclosure).
Aboriginal Peoples may wish to react to research findings. It is inappropriate for researchers to
dismiss matters of disagreement with the group without giving such matters due consideration. If
disagreement persists, researchers should afford the group an opportunity to make its views
known, or they should accurately report any disagreement about the interpretation of the data in
their reports or publications.
2. National Council on Ethics in Human Research
The Ethics of Research Involving Indigenous Peoples
IPHRC (Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre)
* Research agreements need to be negotiated and formalized with authorities of various
Indigenous jurisdictions before any research is conducted with their people.
* Protection and recognition of Indigenous peoples intellectual and cultural property rights by
researchers and institutions must be part and parcel of any funding received from the three
*Indigenous Peoples must also exercise control over all research conducted within their
territories, or which uses their peoples as subjects of study. This includes the ownership, control,
access, and possession of all data and information obtained from research involving Indigenous
3. First Nations Ethics Guide on Research and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (1996) describes indigenous knowledge as “oral
culture in the form of stories and myths, coded and organized by knowledge systems for
interpreting information and guiding action…a dual purpose to manage lands and resources
and to affirm and reinforce one’s relationship to the earth and its inhabitants.”
Researchers who do not follow proper protocols or traditional laws for access, collection,
use, or interpretation of Indigenous Knowledge is considered an act of theft by First
Researchers who fail to understand and devalued Indigenous Knowledge as biased,
subjective, and non-empirical and/or approach First Nations as research subjects instead
of partners, are considered disrespectful and in conflict with Indigenous right to self
Guidelines for research KCN people:
OCAP – Ownership, Control, Access and Possession; A First Nation Community retains
ownership and control over Aboriginal Knowledge and its interpretation. A community will have
full access to any documents and research that includes its Aboriginal Knowledge
Informed consent - A First Nation Community will fully be informed about the use and
interpretation of its knowledge as well as the frameworks and methodologies used prior to the
collection and interpretation of knowledge. The community may grant or withhold its consent
for its knowledge to be accessed, disseminated, or otherwise used.
Partnership - Researchers, Managers, and First Nation communities will work together in full
partnership on research that involves Aboriginal Knowledge.
Disclosure - Researchers will acknowledge and disclose the origin of any Aboriginal Knowledge
used or referred to in research. Researchers must disclose when an invention, result, or finding
is based on Aboriginal Knowledge.
Equity and benefit sharing - The benefit of any research, invention, or finding based on
Aboriginal Knowledge should be equitably shared with the First Nation community that provided
Empowerment - Aboriginal Knowledge should be accessed and used in ways that empowers
First Nation communities; researchers should not seek to qualify Aboriginal Knowledge or
devalue its worth or the worth of its holders.
Academic Integrity - Researchers will respect Aboriginal Knowledge and not claim Aboriginal
Knowledge as their own work.
community maintains ownership, control, access and possession to all Aboriginal
Knowledge used in research or the design of management protocols, practices, or
people are the guardians and interpreters of their culture, traditions and knowledge
systems - past, present, and future.
Communities own their unique knowledge and have the right to control their own
community knowledge and negotiate locally respecting levels of authority;
4. Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussion tables
The goal is to bring greater flexibility to negotiations based on the recognition of rights, respect,
cooperation and partnership. discussions are community-driven and respond to the unique rights,
needs and interests of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis groups where existing federal policies have
not been able to do so. This may involve:
jointly developing new ways to recognize rights and title in agreements
building agreements in steps
exploring ways to advance treaty rights and interests
finding common ground to settle litigation outside of the courts
using existing tools that are available government-wide outside of treaty and self-
government processes to help address the unique needs of each group
building awareness of the treaty relationship
The priorities identified by Indigenous groups are the starting point for these discussions.
Discussions can focus on one priority area or cover many issues.
The process for moving forward is jointly designed by the parties through co-developed
agreements (such as Letters of Understanding, Memoranda of Understanding and Framework
Under the agreed-upon process, the parties then work to find the common ground for moving
ahead in partnership toward a shared and balanced solution.
These discussions can also seek to address longstanding issues that are not covered by existing
treaty or self-government negotiations. This kind of dialogue is open to all Indigenous groups
with Section 35 rights to address longstanding issues that may fall outside the scope of other
Canada recognizes that federal policies and approaches will continue to evolve over time and
looks forward to working with Indigenous communities to co-develop agreements that work for
and benefit the parties.
5. Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples
Canada’s constitutional and legal order recognizes the reality that Indigenous peoples’ ancestors
owned and governed the lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown’s assertion of
sovereignty. All of Canada’s relationships with Indigenous peoples are based on recognition of
this fact and supported by the recognition of Indigenous title and rights, as well as the
negotiation and implementation of pre-Confederation, historic, and modern treaties.
It is the mutual responsibility of all governments to shift their relationships and arrangements
with Indigenous peoples so that they are based on recognition and respect for the right to self-
determination, including the inherent right of self-government for Indigenous nations. For the
federal government, this responsibility includes changes in the operating practices and processes
of the federal government. For Indigenous peoples, this responsibility includes how they define
and govern themselves as nations and governments and the parameters of their relationships with
other orders of government.
Reconciliation process involves reconciling the pre-existence of Indigenous peoples and their
rights and the assertion of sovereignty of the Crown, including inherent rights, title, and
The Government of Canada recognizes that it must uphold the honour of the Crown, which
requires the federal government and its departments, agencies, and officials to act with honour,
integrity, good faith, and fairness in all of its dealings with Indigenous peoples. The honour of
the Crown gives rise to different legal duties in different circumstances, including fiduciary
obligations and diligence. The overarching aim is to ensure that Indigenous peoples are treated
with respect and as full partners in Confederation.
Nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships, including treaty
relationships, therefore include:
a. developing mechanisms and designing processes which recognize that Indigenous
peoples are foundational to Canada’s constitutional framework;
b. involving Indigenous peoples in the effective decision-making and governance of our
c. putting in place effective mechanisms to support the transition away from colonial
systems of administration and governance, including, where it currently applies,
governance and administration under the Indian Act; and
d. ensuring, based on recognition of rights, the space for the operation of Indigenous
jurisdictions and laws
In accordance with section 35, all Indigenous peoples in Canada should have the choice and
opportunity to enter into treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements with the
Crown as acts of reconciliation that form the foundation for ongoing relations. recognizes and
affirms the importance that Indigenous peoples determine and develop their own priorities and
strategies for organization and advancement.
the Government of Canada’s commitment to new nation-to-nation, government-to-government,
and Inuit-Crown relationships that builds on and goes beyond the legal duty to consult. In
delivering on this commitment, the Government recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples to
participate in decision-making in matters that affect their rights through their own representative
institutions and the need to consult and cooperate in good faith with the aim of securing their
free, prior, and informed consent.
The importance of free, prior, and informed consent, as identified in the UN Declaration, extends
beyond title lands. To this end, the Government of Canada will look for opportunities to build
processes and approaches aimed at securing consent, as well as creative and innovative
mechanisms that will help build deeper collaboration, consensus, and new ways of working
Any infringement of Aboriginal or treaty rights requires justification in accordance with the
highest standards established by the Canadian courts and must be attained in a manner consistent
with the honour of the Crown and the objective of reconciliation. Meaningful engagement with
Indigenous peoples is therefore mandated whenever the Government may seek to infringe a
section 35 right.
The Government of Canada recognizes First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit as the
Indigenous peoples of Canada, consisting of distinct, rights-bearing communities with their own
histories, including with the Crown. The work of forming renewed relationships based on the
recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership must reflect the unique interests,
priorities and circumstances of each People.
Summary of principles:
The Government of Canada recognizes that:
1. All relations with Indigenous peoples need to be based on the recognition and
implementation of their right to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-
2. Reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
3. The honour of the Crown guides the conduct of the Crown in all of its dealings with
4. Indigenous self-government is part of Canada’s evolving system of cooperative
federalism and distinct orders of government.
5. Treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous peoples
and the Crown have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation based on mutual
recognition and respect.
6. Meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior, and
informed consent when Canada proposes to take actions which impact them and their
rights on their lands, territories, and resources.
7. Respecting and implementing rights is essential and that any infringement of section 35
rights must by law meet a high threshold of justification which includes Indigenous
perspectives and satisfies the Crown’s fiduciary obligations.
8. Reconciliation and self-government require a renewed fiscal relationship, developed in
collaboration with Indigenous nations, that promotes a mutually supportive climate for
economic partnership and resource development.
9. Reconciliation is an ongoing process that occurs in the context of evolving Indigenous-
10. A distinctions-based approach is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests and
circumstances of the First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit are acknowledged,
affirmed, and implemented.