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Indigenous Health Research

Welcome to the NOSM University guide for researchers wishing to connect with Indigenous Communities to conduct health research. Following the Indigenous Research Gathering 2016 and on the recommendation of the members attending that Gathering the Research and Graduate Studies Office has developed a list of recommendations and guidance documents for Researchers.

Prior to considering a health research project that includes Indigenous communities of Northern Ontario affiliated with NOSM University researchers will need to develop a relationship with the community to determine if the community is receptive to participating in the research. Researchers are reminded that working through the ceremony with the community and community Elders provides an opportunity for respectful relationships.

From the Research Gathering Summary the following four elements are necessary to keep in the forefront in considering Indigenous Community-Based Research:


The community is at the heart of any research study and for research to have a positive impact it must address issues that are meaningful and relevant to the community. It is important to develop a collaborative, participative and meaningful approach that connects researchers with community priorities and connects communities to researchers who have been successful in conducting research with Indigenous communities.


Researchers need to be aware and have a good understanding of the history, language, and culture of the Indigenous communities they are working with. They must also have a good understanding of how research has not always been beneficial to Indigenous communities. In keeping the community at the heart of any research, it is important that research projects also provide opportunities for Indigenous communities to build on their understanding of research and that the project itself supports capacity building of Indigenous researchers.


Research requires time to form and build trusting, respectful and long-term relationships between researchers, community members, leaders, and Elders. It is important to take the time to build a strong understanding of the impact that colonization has had and continues to have on Indigenous communities. This understanding combined with building an understanding of the Indigenous community history, culture and language are imperative in building trust and developing meaningful relationships and needs to be incorporated in the research program. Funding models for research need to reflect the time required to develop solid relations between researchers and communities.


Research in the community is a shared resource of the community and research data and the outcomes from research must be freely available in a form that is meaningful for the community. The research groups spoke of the importance of adhering to the OCAP principles: ownership, control, access, and possession. A clear understanding of ownership, sharing, and intellectual property need to be established from the outset of a research project.

Guidance documents:

Engaging in Aboriginal Health Research Partnerships: A Booklet for Communities and Researchers 
Guidelines for Ethical Aboriginal Research (GEAR, Manitoulin Anishinaabek Research Review Committee)
NOSM Research Gathering Report, 2016
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Guidelines
Tri-Council Policy Statement 2 (TCPS2) Chapter 9 Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada