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Historic approval

Memorial national leader with adoption of Indigenous research policy

Research

By Jeff Green

Memorial has a groundbreaking new Indigenous research policy.

At its July 9 meeting, the Board of Regents approved the Research Impacting Indigenous Groups policy – the first of its kind known in Canadian universities.

The Indigenous communities whose input was part of the new policy.
Photo: Submitted

The policy will provide more effective, sensitive and appropriate review of research impacting Indigenous Peoples. It meets and exceeds the Tri-Council Policy Statement on the Ethical Conduct for Research, Chapter 9, Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.

“Memorial is deeply committed to strengthening the impact and integrity of Indigenous research from the research proposal stage and continuing through to the research phase and beyond,” said President Vianne Timmons.

“The approval by our Board of Regents marks a special moment in Memorial’s history, particularly in our era of reconciliation, decolonization and Indigenization.”

Collaborative process

The approval comes after nearly two years of engagement with the university community and external stakeholders and rights holders.

More than 2,000 people were involved in more than 60 meetings providing feedback and development of the policy, making it the most consulted policy in Memorial’s history.

“I particularly appreciate the stellar leadership of Dr. Liboiron, who played an integral role in the entire process.” — Dr. Neil Bose

In addition to these consultations, an environmental scan was conducted of related practices, policies and processes at other Canadian universities, which concluded that Memorial would be a leader in the country in establishing this critical policy.

Research by experts in Indigenous research ethics, including those from Indigenous communities in the province, was also foundational to the development of the policy.

The new policy comes after nearly two years of engagement with the university community and external stakeholders and rightsholders.
The new policy comes after nearly two years of engagement with the university community and external stakeholders and rights holders.
Photo: David Howells

The Office of the Vice-President (Research) initiated and co-ordinated the process led by Dr. Max Liboiron, associate vice-president (Indigenous research).

The President’s Advisory Committee on Indigenous Affairs recommended a working group to draft the policy.

That group consisted of Dr. Liboiron (Michif); Kelly Anne Butler (Mi’kmaw), student affairs officer-Indigenous affairs at Grenfell Campus; and Michele Wood (Inuk), community member in Labrador.

“Research partnerships present opportunities to further share information and experiences.” — Michele Wood

The policy is designed to ensure Memorial University researchers are accountable to the existing research, priorities and ethics processes of Indigenous groups.

The policy requires researchers to engage with Indigenous groups at the very start of research to put them on a good path as projects develop.

‘Mutually useful research’

“Indigenous groups across the province have been sharing knowledge and teachings from one generation to the next for centuries,” Ms. Wood told the Gazette.

“Research partnerships present opportunities to further share information and experiences, to find responsive ways to shape community programming and to explore emerging issues in an ever changing world.”

Ms. Wood went on to say that taking the time to develop a common ground, to better understand the skills and abilities of each partner, and to create a research partnership based on established goals and objectives that are responsive to community need – not only for academic benefit – prior to the formation of a research application is fundamental to success.

“This policy formalizes the importance that Memorial University places in creating a reciprocally beneficial partnership that is strengthened through early dialogue and relationship building – one that is designed to create inclusive, responsive and mutually useful research,” she added.

Drs. Max Liboiron and Neil Bose. Photo taken in March 2019.
From left are Drs. Max Liboiron and Neil Bose in March 2019.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), thanked all those who provided feedback in the development of the new policy.

“I particularly appreciate the stellar leadership of Dr. Liboiron, who played an integral role in the entire process,” he said.

The approved policy and its procedures are currently available here. They will be added to Memorial’s institutional policy site in the near future.

To ensure that researchers and research staff are fully supported as the new policy rolls out, the Office of the Vice-President (Research) is completing infrastructure, training materials and support systems to be ready for Sept. 1.

In the meantime, research applications can progress as usual as Memorial puts these in place. Any requests for advice can be made via email.

Updates and support materials will be available online.


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