Aboriginal Knowledge Translation: Understanding and Respecting the Distinct Needs of Aboriginal Communities in Research

Aboriginal KT – using research to create positive change – is an ethical issue and pursuit. Canada’s Aboriginal (First Nation, Inuit, and Métis) Peoples are Canada’s First Peoples; as such, they have unique rights and responsibilities. Thus, research involving Aboriginal people requires particular consideration. Ethical guidelines have been articulated by national organizations, including the recent CIHR Guidelines for Health Research involving Aboriginal People4 and a new version of chapter nine – “Research Involving Aboriginal Peoples” – of the Tri-council Policy Statement.5 The 4 R’s of research – respect, reciprocity, relevance, and responsibility – originally described by Kirkness and Bernhardt6 are embedded in each of these guidelines and provide a simple framework for understanding and engaging in Aboriginal research ethics. The Ownership, Control, Access, Possession (OCAP) principles also provide guidance about how to conduct ethical health research with First Nations communities.7 Overall, these documents highlight the importance of including Aboriginal people in research and policy-making. This requires a focus both on the knowledge that is used and gathered and on the process of translation. These areas are discussed in detail below.

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