Is Research Useful?
Many Indigenous communities and individuals today question the value of "research". Often we hear that they feel "researched to death". They have witnessed researchers coming into communities, doing their research, becoming "rich and famous" and are never heard from again. It must be acknowledged that communities have legitimate reasons for feeling this way. They ask whether research and its use benefits them and these are questions that researchers today increasingly face.
Does this mean then, that research into Indigenous issues should be abandoned? At Kloshe Tillicum we don't think so. However, we believe that researchers and communities need to come to agreement about what research means for each. We also believe that the relationship between academic researcher and community must shift so that communities control the topics, types and interventions in research.
How we think about Research: The Four R's of Aboriginal Health Research
In their 1991 work, “First Nations and Higher Education: The four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, and Responsibility”, Kirkness and Barnhardt developed a framework for academic institutions wishing to developing academic initiatives and student services for Indigenous students. At Kloshe Tillicum we have extended the Four-Rs model to inform the relationship between Aboriginal communities and university health research:
Respect is demonstrated toward Aboriginal Peoples’ cultures, communities and wellness by valuing diverse indigenous knowledges of health matters and by inclusion of appropriate contributory health science.
Relevance is demonstrated by health training and research that is meaningful to indigenous peoples rather than the researcher(s) and academic research process.
Reciprocity is accomplished through a two-way process of learning and research exchange. Both community and university benefit from effective training and research relationships.
Responsibility is accomplished by active and rigorous self-reflection, engagement and consultation with community and an ongoing emphasis on roles and research ethics.
Our Research Themes
Over the next two years, Kloshe Tillicum will be focusing on the following research themes:
- Indigenous Knowledge including Traditional Medicine;
- Public Health and Public Health Promotion;
- Aboriginal Research Ethics; and
- Complex Interactions of Factors which Determine the Health of Populations.