Article Title

Leashes and Lies: Navigating the Colonial Tensions of Institutional Ethics of Research Involving Indigenous Peoples in Canada


Ethical standards of conduct in research undertaken at Canadian universities involving humans has been guided by the three federal research funding agencies through the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (or TCPS for short) since 1998. The statement was revised for the first time in 2010 and is now commonly referred to as the TCPS2, which includes an entire chapter (Chapter 9) devoted to the subject of research involving First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples of Canada. While the establishment of TCPS2 is an important initial step on the long road towards decolonizing Indigenous research within the academy, our frustrations—which echo those of many colleagues struggling to do research “in a good way” (see, for example, Ball & Janyst 2008; Bull, 2008; Guta et al., 2010) within this framework—highlight the urgent work that remains to be done if university-based researchers are to be enabled by establishment channels to do “ethical” research with Aboriginal peoples. In our (and others’) experience to date, we seem to have been able to do research in a good way, despite, not because of the TCPS2 (see Castleden et al., 2012). The disconnect between the stated goals of TCPS2, and the challenges researchers face when attempting to navigate how individual, rotating members of REBs interpret the TPCS2 and operate within this framework, begs the question: Wherein lies the disconnect? A number of scholars are currently researching this divide (see for example see Guta et al. 2010; Flicker & Worthington, 2011; and Guta et al., 2013). In this editorial, we offer an anecdote to illustrate our experience regarding some of these tensions and then offer reflections about what might need to change for the next iteration of the TCPS.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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