Tri-agency guideline on remuneration for Indigenous people participating in funded projects

The information on this page is subject to the order of precedence and interpretation as laid out in the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation are dedicated to promoting the leadership of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples through the compensation of individuals leading and participating in Indigenous research and research training. Commitments to Indigenous research and reconciliation are expressed in the Setting New Directions to Support Indigenous Research and Research Training in Canada strategy, as well as within the broader Government of Canada mandate to work toward reconciliation.

In support of this journey, Indigenous Elders, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous people who are affiliated with not-for-profit organizations and are not already being compensated to conduct research may receive compensation for their contributions and participation in agency-funded projects. Individuals compensated in this way are not considered employees of the agencies and are paid in accordance with the administering institution’s policies and processes.

Indigenous team members employed and compensated by another organization for the time spent on the funded research/activities cannot be compensated from grant funds. However, grant funds can be used to reimburse a nongovernmental and/or not-for-profit organization for costs incurred in compensating the individual for time spent on the grant activities, subject to the order of precedence and interpretation.

The table below illustrates who would be eligible to receive compensation:

Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers Eligible
Indigenous people who are affiliated with not-for-profit organizations and are not already being compensated to conduct research Eligible
Indigenous person holding a faculty appointment within postsecondary institutions Not eligible
Indigenous person employed and compensated as a researcher by a not-for-profit organization Not eligible
Indigenous people affiliated with a governmental or private sector organization Not eligible
* The term “affiliation” refers to a faculty appointment position within an institution.

Frequently asked questions

How much should the compensation be?

Dollar values for compensation are not determined by the tri-agencies. Appropriate compensation can change based on the person, nation and relationship, along with many more potential factors. It would not be appropriate for amounts to be set out in the TAGFA, or by the agencies, beyond the basic principles governing the appropriate use of grant funds.

What do you mean by “compensation”?

By ‘compensation’, we mean an eligible expense. An example might be honoraria or gifts for Elders whose involvement is not part of a contractual obligation or professional service. These are currently allowed under the TAGFA rules, reinforcing that this update is only to make that allowance more specific. Compensation may also refer to salary as defined and explained under employment and compensation expenditures.

Does this mean that we cannot compensate Indigenous people as consultants or through contracts?

No. This statement is intended to make explicit the allowance for compensation of Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous people affiliated with not-for-profit organizations as an eligible expense under agency funding. It does not remove any abilities to compensate Indigenous Peoples that were already in place, such as professional contracts with Indigenous consultants or hiring relationships, such as research assistants.

What if this conflicts with agency or funding program rules?

As with all aspects of the TAGFA, this addition is subject to the order of precedence. That means that agency and program rules will supersede this statement, as well as the policies, systems, procedures and controls set out by the administering institution(s).

Why is this being done for Indigenous people only?

This update comes from Setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada, which exists within the context of complementary Government of Canada efforts to support Indigenous self-determination and reconciliation. The update reflects articles within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, specifically Article 3 (right to self-determination), Article 13 (right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations histories, languages, oral traditions, and more) and Article 14 (the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning), and allows for clear support of the priorities of Indigenous researchers.

Does this apply to Indigenous students in postsecondary institutions?

If a student receives compensation as an Elder, Knowledge Keeper, or person affiliated with a not-for-profit organization, they will fall within the scope of this update. If they are compensated through salary (e.g., as a research assistant) or through a contracted activity (e.g., as a consultant), then they would not be within the scope of this update but could still be compensated under existing TAGFA rules (see Question 4).

What about other equity-deserving people?

The TAGFA addresses equity, diversity, and inclusion within the use of grant funds. Changes involving non-Indigenous equity-deserving people and groups are outside of the scope of this update.

Will there be additional funds associated with this update?

No. Grant funds dedicated to the compensation of Indigenous Elders, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous people affiliated with not-for-profit organizations are to be allocated under current funding envelopes.

How would we include this type of compensation in our budget?

As every project is different, it is not possible to provide a standard directive as to how the compensation ought to be laid out across all research projects. However, as with all aspects of grant budgets, the compensation expense should be clear, have a strong rationale, be appropriate to the proposed research, and align with the funding opportunity to which the applicant is applying.

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