Friday, February 22, 2019

Building capacity for Indigenous research

OCAD University's new Strategic Research Plan (SRP) received Senate approval last November, after a two year process of consultation and co-design. The themes and priorities of the new SRP build on the history of research excellence at OCADU while opening avenues to expand for the future.

During the development of our new SRP I benefited from conversations with many faculty on issues pertaining to Indigenous research and OCAD University’s commitment to decolonization. This was a key topic discussed by the Research Committee. In discussions with Professors Ryan Rice and Jason Baerg they advanced the idea that the new SRP affords a unique opportunity for the University to demonstrate our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action.

The SRP has articulated our commitment to “Nothing about us without us,” as outlined in our Academic Plan 2017-2022. This principle stipulates that research involving Indigenous peoples must be led by Indigenous peoples. It is supported by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2 2014) which outlines our responsibilities in Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis Peoples of Canada.

Within this context the University can ensure that Indigenous faculty are supported to advance their own research agendas as we continue to build capacity for Indigenous research to grow. Suggestions for how we can enact our commitment include:
  • Validating and valuing different paths to academic preparation and accumulated knowledges, not always vested in specific degrees;
  • Developing capacity for Indigenous researchers to meet the dedicated funding opportunities offered by funders;
  • Ensuring that Indigenous faculty and communities lead research involving Indigenous peoples and communities;
  • Providing the space and support for Indigenous research at the University;
  • Asking applicants to internal research funding and to our Research Ethics Board to indicate if their research will help OCAD U address the TRC Calls to Action, as one way to build capacity and awareness.
There will be other suggestions for how we can achieve the goals outlined in the SRP that we can take into account. Taking steps such as these our SRP Implementation will help to ensure that the TRC Calls to Action do not fade from research and practice. Enacting suggestions like these as part of the SRP Implementation will send a clear signal about our commitment to decolonization, help us educate the broader research community with whom we interact—faculty, students, communities and partners alike—on the importance of the TRC Calls to Action, and help us track progress over time against these goals. 

I look forward to supporting the University community as we embark on this exciting next step in our research journey.

1 comment:

  1. I love what OCAD is doing with this strategic plan and our Nations. This initiative is so relevant to communities, heritage art and performance in addition to so many other not to be lost cultural treasures. Least of which being "Respect the land, the water and the air." Bravo Robert and your Team!