Enacting research ethics in partnerships with indigenous communities in Canada: "Do it in a good way"

J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics. 2008 Jun;3(2):33-51. doi: 10.1525/jer.2008.3.2.33.


Two studies conducted through community-campus partnerships demonstrated emerging frameworks for ethical conduct of research involving Indigenous peoples in Canada. Both projects involved multiple Indigenous community partners whose interests in promoting children's development and fathers' involvement motivated the projects. The Indigenous projects were conceived within a broader social agenda of restorative justice and self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada following centuries of colonial government interventions. Guiding principles included community relevance, community participation, mutual capacity building, and benefit to Indigenous communities. Memoranda of Understanding negotiated with each community partner specified the roles of community and university partners and research team members in each phase of the research. Testimonials obtained from community representatives before and after the research projects indicated the success of the projects in yielding benefits to the communities in the form of substantive knowledge and strengthened capacities to engage in collaborative research through community-campus partnerships. The larger collaborative research projects in which these two Indigenous projects were embedded created challenges and opportunities due to varying recognition within these networks of the primacy of relationships as a foundation for research and the indeterminacy of outcomes when ownership of data and control over dissemination is in the hands of community partners.