College and Community Innovation program

CCI guide for research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities

The College and Community Innovation program is committed to supporting research that respectfully involves and engages with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples or other Indigenous nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or traditional Indigenous knowledge, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present, regardless of their locale. This commitment reflects and aligns with the Tri-agency’s support for Indigenous research and research training models that lead to meaningful new relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, as outlined in the strategic plan Setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada . The plan identifies four strategic directions guided by the following key principles:

Fostering the right of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to set their own research priorities
Decolonization of research:
Respecting Indigenous ways of knowing and supporting community-led research
Strengthening accountability in respecting Indigenous ethics and protocols in research and identifying the benefits and impacts of research in Indigenous communities
Equitable access:
Facilitating and promoting equitable access and support for Indigenous students and researchers

Applicants whose research involve Indigenous Peoples or communities must

  • consult and take into consideration the concepts, principles and protocols detailed below
  • consult the specific requirements of the appropriate CCI funding opportunity

This guide has been developed to help applicants whose research involves and engages with Indigenous Peoples or communities. It draws primarily on resources developed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Secretariat for the Responsible Conduct of Research (SRCR). Additional resources, including resources developed by other organizations, are listed at the end of this guide. Since the definitions and resources cited here are evolving, this page will be updated periodically. Applicants are invited to consult this guide regularly.

We also encourage you to reach out to your institution for additional resources.

Concepts, principles and protocols

Research involving Indigenous Peoples or communities must be undertaken in accordance with the relevant concepts, principles and protocols for this type of research, some of which are outlined in the documents listed below.

Applicants should also demonstrate how they will integrate the relevant concepts, principles and protocols for conducting respectful research with Indigenous Peoples and communities into each stage of the research process. Evidence of this includes:

  • A description of how the proposed research respects, and contributes to, communities’ current goals and needs
  • Plans for engaging with existing, distinctive research processes and protocols for conducting ethical research reviews in the communities participating in the project
  • A research plan that takes into account communities’ organizational or administrative structures and available resources
  • Plans for engaging with and appropriately recognizing the role of Elders, Knowledge Keepers and/or Knowledge Holders in the research process
  • Plans for promoting the participation of students, trainees and/or research personnel from Indigenous communities in the research team, as well as for fostering a culturally safe, equitable, inclusive and accessible research environment
  • The research teams’ experience working with Indigenous communities, expertise in Indigenous research and/or plans to address any deficiencies (for example, training, guidance and mentorship plans for team members with limited experience or expertise in Indigenous research)
  • Proposed methodologies for the co-creation of knowledge, which could include interpretive approaches that are jointly developed, reviewed and confirmed by and with community members or their community-delegated organization(s)
  • A research plan that demonstrates awareness and understanding of the communities’ expectations about the management and governance of the coproduction and outputs of knowledge, both during and beyond the grant
  • Plans to address the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous self-determination and self-governance, as well as the protection of knowledge and data resulting from the research; for example the First Nations Principles of OCAP® (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) or other principles as determined by Indigenous partners
  • Available institutional resources to support a deep level of collaboration and ethical engagement with Indigenous communities/partners and to enable reciprocity in terms of the benefits derived from the research process and outcomes

Note: The examples listed here may not be reflective of all community contexts and projects. The nature and extent of community engagement in a project should be determined jointly by the researcher and the relevant community, and should be appropriate to community characteristics and the nature of the research, as stated in Article 9.2 of the TCPS 2 (). This article also provides examples of the forms of community engagement that might be appropriate for various types of research.

Additional resources

This list is intended to assist applicants whose research involves Indigenous Peoples or communities.

Tri-agency resources

External resources

Research principles, protocols, guidelines and tools

Education principles and protocols

CCI program staff would like to acknowledge that we are committed to learning more on how we can contribute to affirming the inherent rights of the customary keepers and defenders of the land. We are also committed to continue engaging in dialogue and building relationships with community members. If you have comments or would like to discuss how we can improve this guide, please contact us at

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