Aboriginal Talent Measures

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is committed to ongoing support both for research by and with Aboriginal Peoples—in Canada and abroad—and for Aboriginal students and postdoctoral researchers seeking to advance careers in the social sciences and humanities.

SSHRC is implementing several pilot measures intended to support research by and with Aboriginal Peoples. These are aimed at supporting graduate students and postdoctoral researchers applying for SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships, Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program—Doctoral Scholarships, or SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships.


These measures have been framed as a pilot project, and include:

  • a module for the applicant’s self-identification as Aboriginal, in the application form, thereby allowing SSHRC to track and assess participation and success rates for First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other Indigenous doctoral and postdoctoral applicants (note: this information is optional, will remain confidential and will not be used in adjudication);
  • a tick-box to identify a proposed program of study as Aboriginal research, such that SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research will apply; and
  • instructions for members of SSHRC’s doctoral and postdoctoral adjudication committees to take into account the special circumstances facing many Aboriginal applicants (e.g., the relation of relative delays in an applicant’s academic career due to cultural or community responsibilities, and/or challenging socio-economic contexts).

A few explanatory points on Aboriginal self-identification:

  • Aboriginal applicants to SSHRC’s doctoral and postdoctoral funding opportunities are invited to identify as such on an entirely optional basis.
  • This information will be kept confidential (along with other CV and application information) and will be included in reporting only in aggregate, anonymous and nonidentifying terms, as part of SSHRC’s ongoing assessment of participation rates and comparative funding success by students and researchers from First Nations, Inuit, Métis and other Indigenous peoples.
  • Applicants may choose the identity term(s) they prefer, from broader terms such as Aboriginal, Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Métis, to more specific, multiple or combined terms reflecting a particular identity or identities.
  • The analysis of participation and success rates will be used by SSHRC to assess the need for possible additional measures to support Aboriginal doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers.
  • Any information provided will not affect an applicant’s eligibility for SSHRC funding—nor will it be taken into account by the adjudication committees. 
  • Proof of Aboriginal ancestry is not required, as a Declaration on Aboriginal Identity will not affect program eligibility.

These measures are intended to help ensure equitable access to SSHRC funding for Aboriginal applicants. Other measures could follow in subsequent years, depending in part on what SSHRC learns from these initial measures. SSHRC welcomes feedback and questions.