CLEAR and/or Dr. Liboiron are often invited to join research projects or proposals in the far North, Labrador, or that impact Indigenous groups. Here are our guidelines for considering these generous invitations. The guidelines are based in existing calls to decolonize research, as well as the context at Memorial University of Newfoundland where nearly 100% of research on/with/for Indigenous people is done by non-Indigenous researchers:

CLEAR guidelines for research with Indigenous groups:
1) We do research at the request of Indigenous groups. That is, Indigenous people invite us to work with them on research that impacts them, their homelands, or their goals. If you’re a non-Indigenous PI on a grant proposal or project, you’re welcome to make an introduction between us, but the invitation to be part of a research team must come from them;
2) We research with Indigenous groups on their terms, meaning that we work on their research questions and priorities, they co-design the project, they own the data, and they get paid;
3) We work with projects that prioritize collaboration with Indigenous researchers at all stages, from undergraduate research assistants to graduate students to community-based researchers;
4) Where they exist, ethics permits or permissions from Indigenous Nations is required for all research in homelands and territories, even (especially) if not required by the university or PI;
5) All local protocols for removing animals, plants, or other objects from the Land, must be observed. The lab grows tobacco and other gifts for this purpose.

As of 2020, Memorial University has a new policy that requires written, collective consent from Indigenous groups for any researcher at the university to be on a funding application, or to begin planning research at all. Dr. Liboiron is rather fond of this policy, since they helped create it. 

We know that meeting these guidelines requires building solid relationships long before research proposals are submitting to granting agencies and ethics review boards, and therefore they take a lot of time. We believe that investment is the main way that research becomes excellent. We follow these guidelines for our in-house research as well. 

Photo of a conference
Research partners Liz Pijogge (Nunatsiavut Government) and Max Liboiron (CLEAR, Memorial University) co-present their work at the Northern Contaminants Program annual meeting in Whitehorse, 2019.

Some texts that our guidelines draw from:

  • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (2018). National Inuit Strategy on Research. ITK
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd., 2013.
  • Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “R-words: Refusing research.” Humanizing research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities 223 (2014): 248.
  •  United Nations. (2007). UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)