Researcher Guides

​Resources for Academics Interested in First Nations Research

The FNHA encourages all researchers to familiarize themselves with the existing protocols and expectations surrounding research in First Nations. We have provided external resources below that we believe are essential for researchers to understand and refer to before they approach communities with their research proposals. The principles and practices explained in these resources should be applied and adapted to the unique circumstances of the research study and the community. The resources below include both general and specific guidelines created by various Aboriginal organizations and communities, as well as by academics, universities, and government agencies. Guides from local communities have been included as well, and their content will likely be valuable to all researchers, even when working with different communities.

Guidelines for Researchers:

Protocols & Principles ​for Conducting Research in an Indigenous Context. Faculty of Human and Social Development, University of Victoria. February 2003. This is an example of ethical protocols around Indigenous research that have been developed by an academic institution.

Ethics of Abor​iginal Research. Marlene Brant Castellano, Journal of Aboriginal Health. January 2004. Vol 1, No 1, p. 98-114. This paper offers principles to help guide the development of ethical codes around Aboriginal research, both within the community and with outside researchers.   

Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans -- Chapter ​9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada, 2nd Edition. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. December 2010. This policy represents the ethical standards that all institutional researchers are expected to follow when conducting research involving Aboriginal people.

Examples of Community Ethics Protocols:

Guidelines for E​thical Aboriginal Research - A Resource Manual for the Development of Ethical and Culturally Appropriate Community-Based Research within the First Nations Communities in the Manitoulin Area. Developed by members of the Aboriginal Health Research Review Committee in collaboration with Manitoulin First Nations leadership and community agencies. 2011.

Protocols and Principles for Conducting Research in a Nuu-Chah-Nulth Context. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Research Ethics Committee. August 2008.

Research Principles ​and Protocols - Mi'kmaw Ethics Watch. Unama'ki College of Cape Breton University.

Six Nations Council Ethics Committee Protocol. The Six Nations Council.

Additional Resources:

The First Nati​ons Principles of OCAP. First Nations Information Governance Centre. 2013. This page provides a brief introduction to OCAP.

Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) or Self-Determination Applied to Research: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary First Nations Research and Some Options for First Nations Communities. First Nations Centre. October 2005. This paper offers a detailed critique of the western approach to Aboriginal health research and explains why and how OCAP should be adopted by researchers.

Ethics in First Nations Research. Environmental Stewardship Unit, Assembly of First Nations. March 2009. This paper provides an in-depth introduction to a First Nations perspective on research and discusses relevant ethical considerations for researchers and communities.

Ethical Guidelines for Aboriginal Research Elders and Healers Roundtable - A Report by the Indigenous Health Research Development Program to the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics. Dr. Dawn Martin-Hill, Danielle Soucy MA. This report describes ethical guidelines that were developed through community-based consultations.

Kwayask itôtamowin: Indigenous Research Ethics  Report of the Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre to the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Willie Ermine, Raven Sinclair, Madisun Browne. Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre. March 2005. This paper is a comprehensive summary of a thorough literature review on Indigenous research ethics. It also describes a legal review and an Elders dialogue completed by the authors.

CIHR Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal People. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Ethics Office. 2013-06-27. This document presents earlier guidelines developed by CIHR before TCPS2 was created. Much of its content was incorporated into TCPS2, but there is still some guidance that researchers may find helpful.

If you have any questions or feedback regarding the resources above, you can get in touch with the RKEE team directly by emailing: