Indigenous Youth Voices: A Way Forward in Conducting Research With and by Indigenous Youth

This report was published by Indigenous Youth VoicesFirst Nations Child & Family Caring Society.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released their Final Report and 94 Calls to Action in 2015 to inspire a transformation in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Call to Action 65 calls on the federal government, through the Social Studies and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

As the fastest growing demographic in Canada, the voices, experiences, and priorities of Indigenous youth matter in research, both ethically and equitably. Furthermore, research about Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous youth, has historically been conducted in ways that do not respect the self-determination and wellbeing of Indigenous communities. In response to the role of research in “reproducing colonial relations,” the Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) were developed (First Nations Information Governance Centre, 2014, p. 6). Another ethical standard for conducting research with Indigenous communities is set out in the Tri-council policy: Ethical conduct for research involving humans. Both OCAP and the Tri-Council Policy Statement set out a standard of engagement when conducting research with Indigenous communities, however, neither have set out distinct standards for research with Indigenous youth. Indeed, the Tri-Council Policy Statement simply identifies Indigenous youth as a diverse interest group within communities (Canadian Institute of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2014, Article 9.6). Research with Indigenous youth must have holistic ethical standards that upholds the spirit and intention of reconciliation.

In partnership with the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, Indigenous Youth Voices received an Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation—Connection Grant. As part of this grant, Indigenous Youth Voices conducted six community-based facilitated sessions inviting over 50 Indigenous youth from a diversity of communities and backgrounds to collaborate on reconciliation-based requirements for conducting research with and for Indigenous youth. Our research was conducted in a holistic and meaningful way that put as much emphasis on a respectful process as it did on results. The findings and requirements for conducting research with and for Indigenous youth reflect a broad overview of the data we collected from the community sessions. This paper offers a way forward in rethinking and reshaping research that is meaningful, inclusive, and respectful of all Indigenous youth. It is clear from the conversations had during the community sessions that Indigenous youth know what they deserve in reconciliation and are their own best advocates. As such, in order to fulfill TRC Call to Action 65, Indigenous youth must have a leadership role in the creation of a national research program that is done in a holistic and ethical way, as defined by Indigenous youth themselves.


Indigenous Youth Voices & First Nations Child & Family Caring Society. (2019). Indigenous Youth Voices: A Way Forward in Conducting Research With and by Indigenous Youth. Ottawa, ON: Authors. Retrieved from

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