fACT Sheet – Decolonizing Research: Implementing OCAP Principles

September 26, 2022

Please note this is an excerpt from this fACT Sheet

There is an urgent need to decolonize and reimagine research that includes First Nations and Indigenous Peoples, their traditions, and their ways of knowing. Historically, research has been used against Indigenous Peoples, and has been used to justify colonial policies and attitudes. While doing research with and about Indigenous communities may be well intentioned, it carries all this baggage and can unintentionally harm Indigenous communities. The history of research as harmful has instilled racist practices within research that, if people are not aware of them, can unintentionally replicate. Many Indigenous folks have grown to distrust research. Others are tired of constantly being studied and seeing no material benefits in their lives.

For research to be employed as a tool for empowerment and change, there must be a shift within how research is done – from the questions we ask, to the methods we use to answer those questions, and the way we share those answers. Most importantly, this shift cannot be led by the systems that caused this harm in the first place – it must be led by community.

OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, Possession) is a set of guidelines, geared towards non-Indigenous researchers, regarding how to respect the rights of First Nations while doing research with and about them. First Nations have the right to control the data collection processes done in their communities. They should own how this information can be stored, interpreted, used, or shared. OCAP is a method that can be used to decolonize research work towards reconciliation, as it shifts the power away from traditional research processes towards First Nations owned and produced processes.


Related categories: ESPC Publications: Fact Sheets

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