RDC research team identifies importance of meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities in research

Date posted: 
Thu, 06/21/2018
Red Deer College researchers

A Red Deer College research team has concluded a project which explored appropriate ways locally to avoid historical problems arising from a lack of significant inclusion of Indigenous People in research projects.  

The project, Walking Together: Applying OCAP ® (ownership, control, access, possession) to College Research in Central Alberta featured collaboration from Dr. Krista Robson (RDC’s Research Ethics Board Chair), Michelle Edwards Thomson (Librarian), Vickie Cardinal-Widmark (Indigenous Student Services Coordinator) and Lloyd Desjarlais (Indigenous Student Services Generalist). 

The RDC team established the importance of developing relationships and the value of Indigenous communities determining how research is designed, and how the findings are shared. 

Funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the innovative project has included a range of collaborators. “It has been a rewarding process which has not only engaged RDC staff but several students,” says Robson. “A former RDC student and two current ones played key roles as research assistants, and one student completed an independent study connected to this project.”

The combined venture analyzed current information on the role of Research Ethics Boards in observing OCAP ® principles for research involving Indigenous individuals and communities, and determined that these principles have not been sufficiently amalgamated into Alberta post-secondary institutions. 

“Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, educators and post-secondary institutions play important roles in creating meaningful relationships and partnerships with Indigenous communities,” says Cardinal-Widmark. “Our project has already helped facilitate the assessment of policies and has made an impact at the College.”

While the immediate findings of the project have been shared, the team has long-term goals of expanding its message and audience. “The RDC researchers were pleased to present their findings at two national conferences in May and June. As well, they want to share their project with Indigenous communities and broader academic and Research Ethics Board communities to ensure college boards are equipped with protocol and best practices that emphasize OCAP,” says Dr. Steve Lane, Associate Vice President Academic, Research, and Student Affairs. “It is important to develop more resources for researchers who want to work with Indigenous communities. This project’s findings also reinforce the approach and recommendations of the RDC Indigenous Education Strategic Plan.” 

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Photo caption (l-r): RDC's Lloyd Desjarlais, Michelle Edwards Thomson, Vickie Cardinal-Widmark and Dr. Krista Robson at the CAPAL conference presentation at Campion College earlier this year.

About OCAP®: OCAP® is a registered trademark of the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC). Please refer to FNIGC.ca/OCAP for more information.

For additional information contact:
Brent Forster      
Communications Strategist - Corporate   

Shelley Newman   
Communications Strategist – Corporate