Working with Indigenous Peoples and Remote Communities

Guidance for Researchers: Understanding how to approach Indigenous and other remote communities and form relationships based on trust

Working with Indigenous communities and other remote community groups often requires special considerations, as highlighted by the following excerpts from Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada of The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) (2018).

Research involving Indigenous peoples in Canada has been defined and carried out primarily by non-Indigenous researchers. The approaches used have not generally reflected Indigenous world views, and the research has not necessarily benefited Indigenous peoples or communities. As a result, Indigenous peoples continue to regard research, particularly research originating outside their communities, with a certain apprehension or mistrust.

The landscape of research involving Indigenous peoples is rapidly changing. Growing numbers of First Nations, Inuit and Métis scholars are contributing to research as academics and community researchers. Communities are becoming better informed about the risks and benefits of research. Technological developments allowing rapid distribution of information are presenting both opportunities and challenges regarding the governance of information.

Building reciprocal, trusting relationships will take time...

...respectful relationships, collaboration and engagement between researchers and participants may also be an important source of guidance for research involving other distinct communities. The need to respect a community’s cultural traditions, customs and codes of practice may extend beyond First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.


Researchers may find the following resources helpful if they intend to approach Indigenous communities and form respectful relationships based on trust:

Resources provided by the Tri-Agencies, Government of Canada, and United Nations

Government of Canada: The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) (2018) - Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples of Canada 

Government of Canada: Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (2021)

Senate Canada: How Did We Get Here? A Concise, Unvarnished Account of the History of the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada (Interim Report). Ottawa: Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (2019)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015)

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) 

Resources from First Nations Governments and Organizations

Assembly of First Nations: First Nations Ethics Guide on Research and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge

First Nations Health Authority (FNHA): Research Resources

First Nations Indigenous Governance Centre (FNIGC): Understanding the First Nations Principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession)

Global Indigenous Data Alliance (GIDA): CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: National Inuit Strategy on Research

National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO): Principles of Ethical Métis Research 

Union of BC Indian Chiefs: BC Historical Timeline

Lheidli T'enneh - Community Research Guide

Resources developed by Michael Smith Health Research BC

Indigenous Research Ethics Resources

Books, Journal Articles, and Other Publications

Belshaw, J. et al. (2021). Histories of Indigenous Peoples and Canada. Thompson Rivers University

Castelden, H. et al. (2012). “I spent the first year drinking tea”: Exploring Canadian university researchers’ perspectives on community-based participatory research involving Indigenous peoples. The Canadian Geographer, 56(2): 160-179.

Chilisa, B. (2020). Indigenous Research Methodologies, Second Edition. Sage Publishing.

Hayward, A. et al. (2021). A New Era of Indigenous Research: Community-based Indigenous Research Ethics Protocols in Canada. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 16(4), 403-417.

Henry, H. et al. (2017). The Equity Myth; Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities. UBC Press.

Hoffman, R. (2013). Respecting Aboriginal Knowing in the Academy. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. 9(3), 189-203.

Kovach, M. (2021). Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts, Second Edition. University of Toronto Press.

Tuck, E. and Yang, K.W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1): 1-40.

Vowel, C. (2016). Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, & Inuit Issues in Canada. Portage & Main Press.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Fernwood Publishing.

Younging, G. (2018). Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. Brush Education Inc.

Online Courses and Other Resources

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2): CORE-2022 (Course on Research Ethics)

University of Alberta Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – Indigenous Canada

First Nations and Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia: Indigenous Foundations

BCcampus Research Speaker Series: Indigenous Approaches to Research and Ethics (Webinar)

Memorial University: For researchers: Doing Indigenous research in a good way * This is an excellent, comprehensive webpage with an extensive list of FAQs. UNBC researchers may find some of the information on the page useful, although it should be noted that some information may be out of date and some of it is quite specific to the region which Memorial University serves (Newfoundland and Labrador). 

The Office of Research and Innovation welcomes the input of the entire UNBC community on the content of this page. If you are aware of additional helpful resources that you would like us to consider including, please email your suggestions to Thank you!