Aboriginal Research Statement of Principles


SSHRC is committed to supporting and promoting research by and with Aboriginal Peoples. This commitment emphasizes the importance of Aboriginal perspectives and knowledge systems to increase and expand our knowledge and understanding about human thought and behaviour in the past and present, as well as the future. 

The emphasis on SSHRC’s programming and research funding recognizes the complexity of the 21st-century experience, including the need for a future in which Aboriginal communities and individuals are culturally vibrant, healthy, safe and flourishing. This has further been recognized through SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, which includes a focus on the need to gain a better understanding of how the experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada are essential to building a successful shared future. Supporting social science and humanities research undertaken by and with Aboriginal Peoples and their knowledge systems is a key investment in this future.

The overall goal of this Statement of Principles is to recognize that Aboriginal research, which includes a wide range of unique theoretical and methodological approaches, supports SSHRC’s commitment to scholarly excellence. 


Since the early 2000s, SSHRC has pursued a proactive and engaged commitment to Aboriginal research. Throughout its dialogue with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples, SSHRC has gained a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the unique aspects of Aboriginal research, and how they vary and interconnect with other ways of conducting research in the social sciences and humanities.

Guided by this continued dialogue,  SSHRC’s governing council approved this Statement of Principles in November 2014, so that support for Aboriginal research could become interwoven throughout its entire mission, and its funding opportunities related to Talent, Insight and Connection activities conducted by and with Aboriginal Peoples.


Four objectives are embedded in SSHRC’s commitment, and serve to guide the fair and equitable treatment, review and evaluation of Aboriginal research, and to ensure appropriate talent support for Aboriginal scholars and students.  These objectives are to:

  • support research by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples;
  • recognize the scholarly contributions of Aboriginal knowledge systems, including their diverse ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies;
  • recognize that Aboriginal research requires sensitivity to ethical and other protocols that guide and govern how, why and by whom research is conducted and knowledge is accessed and shared; and  
  • ensure that talent support for Aboriginal students and scholars across the social sciences and humanities aims to enhance Aboriginal capacity, no matter their field of study.

Guiding Principles

To guide its implementation of current and future activities related to these objectives, SSHRC will do the following:

  • Recognize Aboriginal research as defined under the Definitions of Terms on SSHRC’s website.
  • Apply the standards set out in the second edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, and, in particular, Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.
  • Respect Aboriginal knowledge systems, including ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies, as important avenues for exploring the contours of indigenous knowledge, contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration, and extending the boundaries of knowledge in western disciplines.
  • Affirm the important, holistic and interdisciplinary contributions to human knowledge that are made by Aboriginal knowledge systems.
  • Support the talent of Aboriginal researchers and students, including through direct and indirect financial support for Aboriginal students. 
  • Promote and facilitate fair and equitable merit review processes and procedures by including on adjudication committees reviewing Aboriginal research proposals Aboriginal researchers and/or experts in Aboriginal research.
  • Value collaborative and diverse relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Canada, and with indigenous peoples in other parts of the world. 
  • Recognize and respect the diverse protocols and processes appropriate to conducting research in Aboriginal communities with Aboriginal Peoples.
  • Accommodate the diversity of Aboriginal Peoples and identities, each with their particular aspirations and occupying distinct cultural, historical, political and socio-economic spaces.  
  • Encourage the participation of elders and knowledge keepers through recognition of their research contributions and the observance of knowledge-specific protocols.
  • Ensure that all levels of SSHRC programming includes information, guidance, training and tools that help build awareness and understanding about the importance and value of these principles.  
  • Continue to identify important topics, issues and questions relevant to Aboriginal research and to which the social sciences and humanities can contribute its knowledge, talent and expertise, through initiatives including Imagining Canada’s Future.