Principles in Indigenous Research
Indigenous research at HELP incorporates several key values and principles. Values include the Six R’s: relationship, respect, reciprocity, relevance, responsibility, representation, and the assumption of rights and regulations. Relationships must recognize and respect Indigenous culture and values, be equitable, not researcher-centred, and be relevant to Indigenous culture and ways of knowing, and researchers have a responsibility to recognize and uphold Indigenous values, practices, and ways of knowing. Indigenous research, defined as research by Indigenous scholars on, for, and with Indigenous communities, is rooted in the respective Indigenous worldview and promotes self-determination of the community. Representation is having a presence at the table and acting or speaking on behalf of another person or an entire group. Representation empowers Indigenous communities to identify and share what is relevant and important to their people. It allows the voice of the community and of each participant to be heard.
Indigenous research at HELP interweaves the Six R’s and extends these fundamental values and principles according to these eight categories1:
- Self-determination: Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination, including in research activities. Self-determination is a cross-cutting principle linked to all other categories.
- Relationship building: Relationship building is characterized by respect, reciprocity, honesty, fairness, and humility. It is important that researchers adopt a reflexive approach, respect communities’ and organizations’ protocols, and provide written research agreements.
- Respect for local needs and priorities: This category encompasses the usefulness and relevance of the research, which is ensured by respecting local priorities and meeting the needs of communities and organizations, involving all groups concerned, and cultivating egalitarian power relations to foster autonomy.
- Positive impacts and capacity building: Research should have meaningful benefits and foster capacity building, should contribute to the common good and improving living conditions, and protect participants.
- Respect for culture and values: includes principles such as respect for Indigenous Peoples’ holistic perspectives and preserving knowledge, languages, and practices. Research must be relevant to the local social realities and take Indigenous cultural realities into account.
- Recognition of Indigenous knowledge: This includes respect for intellectual property rights, recognizing Indigenous knowledge, and recognizing the expertise of Indigenous communities and organizations. Cultural knowledge and practices must be considered equal to scientific knowledge.
- Respect for consent and confidentiality: Consent must be given ongoingly throughout the project, and participants can withdraw their consent at any time. Equity and respect for privacy, dignity, and rights are also included in this category.
- Data governance: Data governance mainly encompasses the OCAP® (ownership, control, access, and possession) principles. These principles are widely used by Indigenous organizations and communities as data governance guidelines for data affecting them.
 These categories are not presented in order of priority. They are also porous: for instance, self-determination cuts across all eight categories. There is consensus on these principles among the documents analyzed, and the principles are consistent with the findings of other similar reviews conducted in Canada.”1
1. Institut national de santé publique. Indigenous Research Principles: Contributions to Public Health Collaborations. Montreal, QC: INSPQ; 2024 Jan 23. Available from: https://www.inspq.qc.ca/en/publications/3445.