Congress 2021 blog edition
By Claire Kroening, University of Alberta human geography alumna and communications professional
“First of all, if we live and work in this place called Canada, all of us are, in some way, engaged in Indigenous scholarship because we are all situated on Indigenous lands and territories. So what is our responsibility?” Dr. Florence Glanfield, Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research) for the University of Alberta, urges scholars to acknowledge this fact and consider how they embody it in their research lives.
When academics think about conducting Indigenous-engaged scholarship, often the first thing that comes to mind is working directly in Indigenous communities. Working in Indigenous-engaged research is both personal and centred in community because as Dr. Glanfield explained, “we exist in places, and come from places that shape who we are.”
“Research can’t be extractive; it’s about relationality.” Dr. Glanfield explained that historically, research was done on Indigenous people, but it wasn’t done with them. “Ethnographic research data and people’s stories were extracted” by researchers unconcerned with maintaining relationships with communities.
It takes time and effort on the part of the researcher to build collaborative and accountable relationships, and it is necessary to do so. Humility is a key piece in building these relationships. Dr. Glanfield explained how she always approaches Knowledge Holders humbly, acknowledging to them and herself the areas where she still has much to learn.
Researchers always must think about the data they gather--be it text, statistics, stories--in relation to the people it came from. Indigenous communities must maintain sovereignty over their knowledges and experiences.
Researchers must also recognize community-engaged research is a partnership between themselves and community members. Credit must be given where credit is due. Throughout Dr. Glanfield’s illustrious career, she is only credited with sole authorship on one article. For the rest of her work, she has given recognition to every person who made contributions.
Consider the relevance of community-engaged research to your work, and to the community.
Finally, researchers must think critically about whether working directly with a community is the most relevant or appropriate approach for their research idea. They can determine if community collaboration is relevant by discussing the prospective project with the community itself. The researcher might find their original query needs to be augmented for the research to serve the community, or that they should take a different approach altogether.
Engaging in ethical, community-based research: Congress 2021 session helps researchers practise Indigenous-engaged scholarship: https://www.ualberta.ca/folio/2021/06/engaging-in-ethical-community-based-research-congress-2021-session-helps-researchers-practise-indigenous-engaged-scholarship.html