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Indigenous engineering - building a better future: Respectful research

Introduction to Respectful Research

When involving Indigenous peoples, lands, or knowledge in engineering research, care must be taken to ensure you meet all ethical and moral standards of research with Indigenous people.

This means not only meeting ethical requirements for research as set out by the University of Waterloo Research Ethics Board, but also the requirements set out by the Indigenous group you wish to involve in your study.

The care and management of research data collected through work with Indigenous communities must also be considered in the planning stages of your research, and carried on throughout the life of your project.

Principles of Data Sovereignty

Some principles of data sovereignty to consider and respect:

  • Indigenous Data Sovereignty needs to be defined by Indigenous communities.
  • Data are not neutral.
  • It is important how data are perceived, especially recalling colonialization. Consider how data are interpreted; it has to be within the context of having an Indigenous world view and perspective.
  • First Nations are not "stakeholders," they are nations within their own right and should be treated as such through collaboration.
  • OCAP: First Nations principles of Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession assert that First Nations have control over data collection processes, and that they own and control how this information can be used.
  • First Nations are not an homogenous group. There are 600+ First Nations communities.
  • Acknowledge the past to work smarter moving forward.
  • Celebrating different world views.
  • Data needs to be relevant to Indigenous peoples and each Indigenous Nation. The way new data are collected must reflect the world view of all First Nations.
  • Data collection is not new to Indigenous peoples.


MacGregor, L. (2023, June). First Nations Principles of OCAP Virtual Workshop. Workshop.

Resources and guides

The Office of Research has prepared Resources and guides for Indigenous research, a webpage offering resources to familiarize "faculty with Indigenous paradigms and practices which might differ from those normally pursued across the University." It includes the following sections:

Guidance on Embedding Indigenous Considerations in Research Design:

Indigenous Research Ethics and Data Management: