Abstract

Questions of data governance occur in all contexts. Arguably, they become especially pressing for data concerning Indigenous people. Long-standing colonial relationships, experiences of vulnerability to decision-makers, claims of jurisdiction, and concerns about collective privacy become significant in considering how and by whom data concerning Indigenous people should be governed. Also significant is the on going need on the part of governments to access and use such data to plan, monitor, and account for programs involving Indigenous people.

This exploratory policy article seeks to inform efforts to improve the governance of data between governments and Indigenous organizations and communities – especially the federal government and First Nations in Canada. It describes a spectrum of models arising from the growing literature on data governance in the corporate and public sectors as well as overarching approaches articulated by Indigenous organizations. After outlining certain practical considerations in negotiating data sharing agreements, the article presents a selection of promising initiatives in indigenous data governance undertaken in Canada, the United States, and Australia.

Acknowledgments

This article had many contributors. Special thanks are due to staff members at the BC First Nations Health Authority, the Tui’kn Partnership, the First Nations Technology Council, Ktunaxa First Nation, Keewaytinook Okimakanak, First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission, British Columbia Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Health Canada, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). The First Nation Information Governance Centre also provided helpful orientations on the First Nations governance of First Nation data at workshops and a 2011 conference. The author gratefully acknowledges staff of the Strategic Research Directorate, AANDC for their financial support and their long-standing interest in the governance of Indigenous data.

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