I spent the first year drinking tea: Exploring Canadian university researchers perspectives on community-based participatory research involving Indigenous peoples

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  • The Canadian Geographer Le Gographe canadien The Canadian Geographer Le Gographe canadien

    I spent the rst year drinking tea: ExploringCanadian university researchers perspectives oncommunity-based participatory research involvingIndigenous peoples

    Heather CastledenSchool for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University

    Vanessa Sloan MorganSchool for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University

    Christopher LambDepartment of Community Relations, University of Victoria

    Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is generally understood as a process by which decision-makingpower and ownership are shared between the researcher and the community involved, bi-directional researchcapacity and co-learning are promoted, and new knowledge is co-created and disseminated in a manner that ismutually benecial for those involved. Within the eld of Canadian geography we are seeing emerging interestin using CBPR as a way of conducting meaningful and relevant research with Indigenous communities. However,individual interpretations of CBPRs tenets and the ways in which CBPR is operationalized are, in fact, highlyvariable. In this article we report the ndings of an exploratory qualitative case study involving semi-structured,open-ended interviews with Canadian university-based geographers and social scientists in related disciplineswho engage in CBPR to explore the relationship between their conceptual understanding of CBPR and theirapplied research. Our ndings reveal some of the tensions for university-based researchers concerning CBPR intheory and practice.

    Keywords: Community-based participatory research (CBPR), research involving Indigenous peoples, humanresearch ethics, decolonizing methodologies, institutional barriers, TCPS2, research ethics boards

    Jai passe la premie`re annee a` boire du the : une exploration des conceptions que se font leschercheurs universitaires canadiens de la recherche participative axee sur la communaute portantsur les peuples autochtones

    La recherche participative axee sur la communaute est couramment denie comme un processus par lequel : lepouvoir decisionnel et le sentiment dadhesion sont partages par le chercheur et la communaute en question; lacapacite en recherche bidirectionnelle et lapprentissage en collaboration sont valorises; des nouvellesconnaissances sont generees en collaboration et diusees de sorte que celles-ci puissent etre avantageuses pourtoutes les parties. Depuis quelques annees, il se dessine une tendance en geographie canadienne au recours a`cette methode de recherche participative axee sur la communaute, methode qui est vue comme bien adaptee etpertinente pour eectuer des recherches aupre`s des communautes autochtones. Les interpretationsindividuelles des principes de ce type de recherche divergent et se traduisent sur le terrain par des pratiquesvariees. Cet article presente des conclusions tirees dune etude de cas exploratoire de type qualitatif realisee a`partir dune serie dentretiens semi-diriges et ouverts aupre`s de chercheurs specialises en geographie et en

    Correspondence to/Adresse de correspondance: Heather Castleden, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie Uni-versity, 6100 University Avenue, Suite 5010, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2. Email/Courriel: heather.castleden@dal.ca

    The Canadian Geographer / Le Geographe canadien 2012, 56(2): 160179

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-0064.2012.00432.xC Canadian Association of Geographers / LAssociation canadienne des geographes

  • Researchers perspectives on CBPR 161

    sciences sociales provenant du milieu universitaire canadien qui privilegient une approche participative axee surla communaute. Le but est de se pencher sur les liens qui existent entre leur comprehension des concepts lies a`la recherche participative axee sur la communaute et leur recherche appliquee. Il en ressort que le rapportentre la theorie et la pratique de la recherche participative axee sur la communaute entranent des tensionspour les chercheurs universitaires.

    Mots cles : recherche participative axee sur la communaute, recherche portant sur les peuples autochtones,ethique de la recherche avec des etres humains, methodologies decolonisatrices, obstacles institutionnels,EPTC2, conseils dethique en recherche

    Introduction: The colonial roots ofgeography and research involvingIndigenous peoples

    Geography as an academic discipline is aproduct of colonial processes (Godlewska andSmith 1994; Bell et al. 1995; Powell 2008).Arguably, more than any other [discipline],[geography is] the product of imperialism. . .[It] was the product of, and implicated in,the expansionist policies of Europe through-out the age of [the] empire (Painter and Jef-frey 2009, 176). British common law designatedmuch of the Canadian landscape as terra nul-lius, or empty lands, creating the necessarylegal conditions for Indigenous1 communitiesto be forcefully excluded and marginalizedfrom their traditional territories (Deloria 1969;Borrows 1998; Cardinal 1999; McMillan andYellowhorn 2004). Mapping and other forms ofgeographic place-making allowed European pow-ers to lay claim to lands that, although inhabited,were considered un-peopled based on ethnocen-tric views that those indigenous to the lands hadinferior social organizations; this in turn servedas justication for the colonizers actions (Harley1989; Brealey 1995; McMillan and Yellowhorn2004; Louis 2007). The Indian Act, among othercolonial policies and practices, allowed imperi-alist governments to apply European notions ofproperty and human-nature relations, thus trans-forming landscapes to reect European state sys-tems and European cultural values of land-use

    1The Canadian government denes Aboriginal as those of FirstNations, Inuit, or Metis descent. For the purpose of this paperIndigenous will be used in place of Aboriginal to counterthe colonial denition of identity imposed upon Indigenouspopulations. When referring to government documents, suchas the CIHR Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aborigi-nal People (2007), the term Aboriginal will be used as it ap-pears within the document.

    (Bishop 2003; McGregor 2009; Natcher 2001).Having justied these actions through Eurocen-tric concepts of state-centred social organiza-tion, Canada remains replete with socio-politicaland physical landmarks of colonization (Bracken1997; Inglis et al. 2000; Warry 2007; Godlewskaet al. 2010).

    These geographies of power are still apparentin the contemporary Canadian context with In-digenous peoples deeply harmed by marginaliz-ing governmental policies and practices (Simpson2004; Alfred 2009). As a result of colonial policy(e.g., the Indian Act, residential schooling, etc.),and when compared with the larger Canadianpopulation, Indigenous peoples endure substan-tially more social, economic, and health burdens(Reading and Wien 2009). In response, socialscientists (including geographers) and health re-searchers have built careers studying various as-pects of Indigenous peoples lives (Warry 2007).While it is reasonable to assert that positive, rel-evant, and useful research outcomes do occur inIndigenous research, and geographers have cer-tainly contributed to some of the good storiesabout researchers that circulate in Indigenouscommunities, those stories are certainly out-weighed by the bad stories (Smith 1999). Re-search has often been undertaken by parachuteresearchers who collect data at a time of theirchoosing (also read as a time of convenience tothe researcher) and exit as quickly as they ap-pear with little to no communication before, dur-ing, or after the study (Brant Castellano 2004).

    In short, the benets of the academys re-search enterprise for Indigenous individuals andcommunities have not been equally or equi-tably distributed (Battiste and Youngblood Hen-derson 2000). Instead, conventional researchhas often misrepresented Indigenous peoples(Ball and Janyst 2008). Their knowledge has

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  • 162 Heather Castleden, Vanessa Sloan Morgan, and Christopher Lamb

    been appropriated (Battiste and YoungbloodHenderson 2000), secondary use of their datahas taken place without informed consent (Glassand Kaufert 2007), and the outcomes of someuniversity-based research have clearly resultedin harm to participants and the wider commu-nity (Brant Castellano 2004). Work that focuseson pathology and dysfunction rather than un-derstanding Indigenous perspectives and experi-ences has often led to stereotyping (Reading andNowgesic 2002; Maar et al. 2005) and neglect ofIndigenous peoples intellectual property rights(Svalastog and Eriksson 2010).

    It is no surprise then that research is a dirtyword for many Indigenous peoples: it raisesa smile that is knowing and distrustful (Smith1999, 1). Focusing on the need to address thelegacy and continuation of colonialism, Smithsseminal work challenged researchers to raisethe bar (and change their approach) in terms ofresearch involving Indigenous peoples. In a post-modern era, her writing has contributed to thedevelopment of a new generation of researcherswho are critically engaged in understand-ing knowledge and power structures createdby research and dedicated to doing researchin a good way (Ball and Janyst 2008, 33). Theneed to not only involve, but also collaboratewith, communities through all stages of theresearch process was put forward as a way toaddress the colonial legacy. Community-basedparticipatory research (CBPR) has been identiedas a research philosophy and methodology thathas the potential to contribute to eorts to de-colonize the university researcher-Indigenouscommunity relationship (Castleden et al.2008).

    CBPR is not a research method per se, it isa process by which decision-making power andownership is shared between the researcher andthe community involved; bi-directional researchcapacity and co-learning are promoted; and newknowledge is co-created and disseminated in amanner that is mutually benecial (Israel et al.2003; Castleden et al. 2008). CBPR is not a novelapproach to research outside the academy (Hall2005) but it is relatively new for university-basedresearchers engaging with Indigenous peoples inCanada. Rooted in Kurt Lewins work on experi-ential learning, social psychology, and group dy-namics from the 1940s, the social movements

    of the 1970s embraced CBPR as an interventionfor positive social change (Hall 2005). Empha-sizing community values and autonomy withinall stages of the research process (Boser 2007),CBPR focuses on the various social and physi-cal frameworks and structural inequalities thatare manifest in the structures of power thatexist between researchers and communities (Is-rael et al. 2005). Redressing the imbalances be-tween knowledge and power, CBPR is intended towork towards change that the community viewsas tangible and benecial (Kwan 2004). Throughcritically addressing the otherness involved inworking with people of varying epistemologicalbackgrounds (Said 1978), conventional notionsof ethics are challenged to promote the socialand cultural construction of knowledge (Walwork2008).

    CBPR approaches typically include a numberof co-learning and bi-directional learning oppor-tunities. For communities, there are opportuni-ties to learn new knowledge from social, natural,and health scientists; procedural research skills,including data collection and analysis; and alsocommunication skills through writing reports,manuscripts, poster-preparation, and conferencepresentations. For researchers there are oppor-tunities to learn from keepers of Indigenousknowledge as well as procedural community-specic skills including cultural protocols, cere-mony, and relational ethics or, to put it anotherway, a richer meaning of respect in IndigenousCBPR (Meadows et al. 2003; Bergum and Dosse-tor 2005; Bourque Bearskin 2011). Unlike con-ventional research, where analysis takes place inthe academy, engaging with community membersover interpretation of both language and culturalcontent may also prevent misrepresentation andmisallocation of Indigenous knowledge (Battisteand Youngblood Henderson 2000; Brant Castel-lano 2004). With respect to research involvingIndigenous peoples, CBPRs tenets also includerespect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibil-ity (the four Rs) (Kirkness and Barnhardt1991, 1). Operationalizing CBPR and the fourRs may work towards: developing relationshipsbased on trust; challenging conventional researchparadigms; creating avenues for Indigenous peo-ples, communities, and organizations to deter-mine the level of involvement they want totake in research processes and outcomes; and

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    developing stronger ethical guidelines (Kirknessand Barnhardt 1991).

    While ideal in theory for its capacity to de-construct power imbalances within research pro-cesses, carrying out CBPR can be daunting.This article reports on the ndings from anexploratory, qualitative case study that exam-ines university-based researchers perspectives onCBPR partnerships with Indigenous communi-ties.2 In the next section, we present a discus-sion of the evolution of guidelines that seekto address the legacy of unethical research in-volving Indigenous peoples in Canada. Follow-ing that, we share the results of our analysisof researchers understandings of CBPR theoryand practice throughout all phases of a researchproject, from establishing partnerships and de-signing research to data collection/analysis anddissemination. We conclude with a discussion ofthe tensions between theory and practice, and anexploration of implications that CBPR can havefor partners, both community and academic.

    Ethical guidelines for researchinvolving Indigenous peoples inCanada: Moving towards a partnershipparadigm

    University-based research is accepted as legit-imate and is one of the dominant means ofcreating and sharing knowledge (Louis 2007).Determining appropriate areas of investigativeimportancethe social and physical issues worthresearchingis value-laden and largely in ac-cordance with the worldviews of those in theacademy, the majority of whom are still whitemales (Atleo 2004). Western values are not onlyimbedded in but have created these research pro-cesses; as a result, they remain rooted in colo-nial and relational power structures (Smith 1999;Louis 2007). Indigenous communities situated inCanada have been subjected to this power dy-namic for centuries. Scholarly research has been

    2Community can be ambiguous (Silver et al. 2006; Freeman1993; ACUNS 1982). Dening community is particularly com-plex based on historical and colonial mis/allocation, place (e.g.,on-reserve versus o-reserve) and political externalities (e.g.,government designation of status). In this study, participantsconceptually dened community as they saw t in relation totheir community-academic partnerships.

    on rather than by, for or with Indigenous peo-ples (Schnarch 2005; Delemos 2006; Malone et al.2006; Koster et al., this issue, 195).

    Given the growing recognition of unethical re-search practices involving Indigenous peoples inCanada and in an eort to minimize harm, sev-eral national bodies, Indigenous organizations,and funding agencies began producing ethicsstatements, guidelines, and policies in the early1980s (see Table 1). These documents are in-tended to promote and encourage critical exam-ination of the research design in an eort toaddress imbalances of power and risk. In short,they advocate for community autonomy, oeringanother avenue that has the potential to con-tribute to decolonizing the research process (Bat-tiste and Youngblood Henderson 2000). Each isdescribed below, detailing the evolution from oneto the next.

    One of the rst ethics policy statementsfor research involving Indigenous peoples inCanada was produced in 1982 by the Associationof Canadian Universities for Northern Studies(ACUNS 1982); its focus was limited to re-search conducted in northern Canada. Takinginto consideration the notion that commu-nity was not restricted to an area of settle-ment, the original ACUNS statement outline themultiple roles that community members playwithin the research process: as research sub-jects, as part of the research team, providinginformation, using the completed research, oridentifying research needs (ACUNS 1982). Thisstatement was intended to encourage the devel-opment of co-operation and mutual respect be-tween researchers and the people of the North(ACUNS 1998, 4).

    The second edition of the ACUNS statementbegan to steer towards a partnership approachto research. In addressing the need to increaseinvolvement of northerners, not only as sub-jects or passive observers of research but inall aspects of the research process, emphasiswas placed on the creation of relationships withIndigenous communities and peoples (ACUNS1998, 4). ACUNS posited that relationships basedon mutual respect are necessary for both partiesand the research itself. Two additional direc-tives to researchers were added in the secondedition: 1) the need to abide by local regula-tions and protocols; and 2) the need to uphold

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    Table 1Chronology of Indigenous Research Ethics Policy/Guideline Development in Canada

    Publication Year Organization Highlights

    Ethical Principles for the Conductof Research in the North(ACUNS 1982)

    1982 Association of CanadianUniversities for NorthernStudies

    Need for accountability Advocates co-operation and mutual respect

    Ethical Principles for the Conductof Research in the North 2ndedition (ACUNS 1998)

    1998;Reprintedin 2003

    Association of CanadianUniversities for NorthernStudies

    Advocates community collaboration in all stages ofresearch

    Need to account for cross-cultural contexts/contentTri-Council Policy Statement:

    Ethical Conduct for ResearchInvolving Humans (TCPS) (CIHR,NSERC, and SSHRC 1998)

    1998 Canadian Institutes of HealthResearch, Natural Science andEngineering Research Council,and Social Science andHumanities Research Council

    Indigenous collaboration in developing guidelines Identies a history of misconduct Refers to organizations with ethical guidelines

    (ACUNS and the American Association ofAnthropologists)

    Suggests best practicesOwnership, Control, Access, and

    Possession (OCAP) orSelf-Determination Applied toResearch (Schnarch 2005)

    2005 National Aboriginal HealthOrganization

    Community control of research process and data Community choice to establish a partnership Emphasizes cultural and social importance of

    knowledge Community focused

    CIHR Guidelines for HealthResearch Involving AboriginalPeople (CIHR 2007)

    2007 Canadian Institutes of HealthResearch

    Cultural values/protocols at forefront for healthyresearch

    Community choice concerning partnership Community control over data Community focused

    Tri-Council Policy Statement:Ethical Conduct for ResearchInvolving Humans 2nd edition(TCPS2) (CIHR, NSERC, andSSHRC 2010a)

    2010 Canadian Institutes of HealthResearch, Natural Science andEngineering Research Council,and Social Science andHumanities Research Council

    Intended to respect Indigenous people and cultures,concern for their welfare, social justice, andinclusiveness

    Further discussion needed for partnershipapproach, however oers suggestions

    Mandatory compliance

    a level of appropriate community consultation atall stages of the research. Building on appropri-ate consultation, researchers are advised to giveconsideration to the relevant cross-cultural con-texts, if any, and the type of research involved(ACUNS 1998, 5). Researchers were also encour-aged to consider local research needs and theroles of community members within the researchprocess, including community members as (forexample): funders, partners in research collab-oration, licensors, and people living and experi-encing the impact of research (ACUNS 1998).

    In its expansion of the need for community in-volvement, the ACUNS statement was a guidingdocument3 for the three national research grant-ing agencies in Canadathe Canadian Institutes

    3So was the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996).

    of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciencesand Engineering Research Council of Canada(NSERC), and the Social Sciences and HumanitiesResearch Council of Canada (SSHRC) (commonlyreferred to as the Tri-Council)to develop the1998 Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS): EthicalConduct for Research Involving Humans. TCPS in-cludes a brief section entitled Research Involv-ing Aboriginal People (sections 6.16.4) (CIHR,NSERC, and SSHRC 1998). The 1998 TCPS pro-vided an introductory disclaimer stating [t]heAgencies . . . have not held sucient discussionswith representatives of the aected peoples orgroups, or with the various organizations or re-searchers involved (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC1998, 6.1). This disclaimer was necessary dueto TCPS non-compliance with one of the recom-mendations coming from the Royal Commission

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    on Aboriginal Peoples nal report (1996), whichcalled for the active involvement and consulta-tion of Indigenous peoples for decisions aectingIndigenous people and communities.

    Among other things, the TCPS was theTri-Councils contribution to the ethics dis-course concerning research involving Indige-nous peoples. However, no formal policieswere established as the TCPS was intendedto serve as a starting point for such dis-cussions (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC 1998,6.1). In addressing the collective nature ofknowledge and distinct perspectives and un-derstandings embodied within [Indigenous]cultures and histories, (6.2), the TCPS sug-gested, in fact, that conventional researchethics review boards and ethical requirementsmight not be suited to uphold ethical conductin Indigenous contexts. As a result of thelack of capacity at the university, researchersand university-based ethics review boardswere encouraged to consider the interestsof the [Indigenous] group (6.2). The TCPSlist of best practices, directly inuenced bythe 1998 ACUNS statement, proposed anadaptation of academic ethics codes, andhighlighted the need for community con-sultation throughout the research processand the need for researchers to respect culturalprotocols in Indigenous communities.

    The Tri-Councils 1998 edition attempted toaddress power imbalances within research byinitiating discussions with academic administra-tors and researchers; however, these decoloniz-ing initiatives, intended to shed the paternalismembedded within the research process, remainedlargely theoretical in nature. Thus, while ivorytower actions were shaping national policy, In-digenous individuals, communities, and organiza-tions began creating their own ethics protocols.Territorial, cultural and Indigenous organiza-tions, such as the Mikmaq Ethics Watch(n.d.), the Aurora Research Institute (2011),the Nunavut Research Institute (2011), and theKahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project(2007), as well as governing bodies such as Bandand Tribal Councils, began installing their ownethical checks and balances to ensure that re-search would be conducted with communitiesin a manner that respected cultural and ethi-cal protocols. Thus, once university researchers

    gained ethical approval from their institutions,additional licensing, research agreements, and/orcommunity-based ethical approvals were becom-ing necessary, particularly in the North, prior tocommencing research.

    In 2005, the National Aboriginal Health Organi-zation (NAHO) released their policy on research:Ownership, control, access, and possession orself-determination applied to research: A criticalanalysis of contemporary First Nations researchand some options for First Nations communities(OCAP) (Schnarch 2005). Intended to guide com-munity and researcher decisions involving healthresearch, this document provided guidelines forcommunity empowerment within the researchprocess. The OCAP principles were essentiallyNAHOs eorts to address knowledge misap-propriation and cultural misrepresentation byestablishing community ownership of culturalknowledge, data, and information; communitycontrol of all aspects of their lives; communityaccess to data and information about themselves;and possession of all data (Schnarch 2005, 45).

    In the same year that the NAHO releasedOCAP, the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples Health(one of the Canadian Institutes for Health Re-search), established an Aboriginal Ethics WatchGroup (AEWG), which, in collaboration with anAboriginal advisory committee composed of com-munity members and researchers, and additionalnon-Aboriginal researchers and institutions, cre-ated the CIHR Guidelines for Health ResearchInvolving Aboriginal People (CIHR 2007). The re-sulting fteen articles outlined in that documentwere intended to promote health through re-search that is in keeping with Aboriginal val-ues and traditions (CIHR 2007, 2); these articleshave become instrumental in informing ethicalresearch practices for health researchers work-ing with Indigenous peoples and communities.While CIHR was diligent in its eorts to en-gage in extensive community consultation, theseguidelinesand the TCPShave also been criti-cized as too prescriptive and perpetuating colo-nial practices (see, for example, Eyre 2010).

    Soon after the publication of the CIHR Guide-lines, the Tri-Council began a consultative pro-cess to revise the entire TCPS. With respectto the minor section in the 1998 versionentitled Research Involving Aboriginal People,the Tri-Council engaged again with the AEWG,

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    Indigenous organizations, community leaders,and university-based researchers to revise theTCPSs content concerning Indigenous research.What resulted was an entire chapter (Chapter 9)devoted to ethical considerations for researchinvolving Indigenous peoples. After moderateacademic reviewand to a much lesser ex-tent, Indigenous community reviewopen de-bate, sharp criticism, and subsequent revisionsto that chapter, the Tri-Council approved the re-lease of the second edition in 2010. Referredto as TCPS2, this document has replaced ear-lier guidelines as the ethical standard that in-forms the deliberations of institutional researchethics boards across Canada. TCPS2 is intendedto bridge conceptual worlds, not repeating er-rors of the past by assuming that Aboriginalpeoples needed instruction in ethics but, rather,connecting with those deep currents of ethicalsensibility that live on in contemporary commu-nity life (Brant Castellano and Reading 2010, 3).

    Partnership approaches informed by commu-nity collaboration is clearly necessary as demon-strated in the evolving ethical guidelines of thepast two decades. Although open-ended, whichinevitably leads to more questions than answers,these documents have been integral to informingresearchers and helping develop policies on mat-ters of Indigenous community-university partner-ships. What follows are the ndings from ourexploratory case study undertaken in 20094 thatinvestigated the challenges associated with CBPRfrom university-based researchers perspectives.By engaging in this dialogue, our goal is to con-tribute to the work of decolonizing the academy;beginning the dialogue within geographya dis-ciplinary product of colonialismis a logical (ifnot more correctly, an ironic) point of depar-ture.


    This exploratory study investigated Canadianuniversity-based researchers (primarily geogra-phers) perspectives on the involvement of Indige-

    4Interviews were conducted after the release of the draft ver-sion of the TCPS2. While it was still under review, all re-searchers were aware of it and had reviewed Chapter 9Research Involving Aboriginal People in Canada.

    nous partners in CBPR. To maximize the qualityand depth of the data, a semi-structuredand open-ended interview guide was developed(Denzin and Lincoln 2005). Participants were pur-posefully recruited on the basis of three crite-ria: 1) they were social science faculty members,postdoctoral fellows, or PhD candidates in theirnal year of study at a Canadian university; 2)they responded in the armative that they em-ployed a CBPR approach to their research whenrecruited; and 3) their research involved Indige-nous communities in Canada.

    The lead author, a non-Indigenous woman, hu-man geographer, and CBPR researcher herself,identied a preliminary group of potential re-searchers who met the three criteria. The secondauthor, a non-Indigenous woman and paid re-search assistant, recruited researchers via email.Of the 18 researchers contacted, 15 agreed toparticipate in the study5, 6 (see Table 2). Theserespondents were given an information sheet andan informed consent form that outlined the na-ture of the study along with the option to reviewtheir interview transcripts for accuracy as well ashow quotes were used in context prior to publi-cation (Baxter and Eyles 1997).

    Interviews were conducted over the phone andlasted from 90 to 120 minutes. The second au-thor conducted all of the interviews to ensureconsistency in the use of the interview proto-col. Interviews were digitally recorded and tran-scribed verbatim. Respondents were asked todiscuss their most recent community-academicpartnership in detail. All three authors7 ana-lyzed the transcripts both independently andcollaboratively, striving for dependability, con-rmability, and credibility with respect to theresearch ndings (Baxter and Eyles 1997; Whitte-more et al. 2001). Using a constant-comparativeapproach (Aronson 1994) and drawing from

    5Two of the fteen participants identied themselves as mem-bers of First Nations. One of these participants is a university-based research coordinator who was invited to participatebased on their knowledge and experience of community-university research partnerships.

    6The richness of the data, not the number of participants, de-termines sample size in qualitative research (Maxwell 2005).

    7The third author, a non-Indigenous male, had recently com-pleted an undergraduate honours thesis in Geography on CBPRunder the supervision of the lead author. He was engaged dur-ing the data analysis and contributed to the writing of thismanuscript.

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    Table 2Respondents Background Information8

    Respondent Gender Tenured Length of Partnership9 Research Focus Region of Research

    1 F Yes 7 years Health and place Atlantic2 M N/A N/A Health services Western3 F Yes 11 years Social relationships Northern4 F No 3 years Tourism Northern5 F Yes 5 years Education Western6 F Yes 8 years Health and place Western7 F Yes 2 years Health and place Northern8 M Yes 13 years Health policy Atlantic9 F Yes 8 years Child and youth care Western10 F No 3 years Ethnoecology Western11 F Yes 10 years Ethics and education Central12 F No 6 years Global change Northern13 F Yes 15 years Health policy Central14 M No 4 years Health and global change Northern15 F Yes 30 years Social-ecological health Western

    Respondents quotes are followed by a number (e.g., R1) in subsequent sections so that their quotes may be further contextualized.

    grounded theory (Charmaz 2006), data were the-matically coded to highlight overarching andrecurring themes from which several factorswere identied to explain the challenges fac-ing university-based researchers engaged in CBPRinvolving Indigenous peoples in Canada. Thesefactors are described in detail through the ex-amination of tensions that emerge during thefour key stages of conventional research: design;data collection; analysis; and knowledge transla-tion/mobilization.10 Who was involved and howthey were involved in each of these four stagesbecame the subject and focus of our analysis.

    Findings: Researchers perspectiveson CBPR from theory to practice

    Within the context of CBPR, how people are in-

    8Researchers who participated in this study requestedanonymity. In accordance with TCPS2, the research team haslimited participants demographic information in order to en-sure that their responses remain condential.

    9Researchers were asked to elaborate upon their most recentpartnership with an Indigenous community and/or communityorganization. At the time of interviews, all partnerships wereongoing, therefore, lengths reect the time reported when theinterviews were conducted.

    10In this paper, we employ CIHRs denition of knowledgetranslation: a dynamic and iterative process that includessynthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically-sound appli-cation of knowledge (CIHR 2008).

    volved is as important as who is involved inmaintaining a collaborative and respectful re-search project, a focal point of many ethicalguidelines. The ndings are, therefore, framedaround the four methodological stages inherentin university-based research projects: 1) researchdesign; 2) data collection; 3) data analysis; and 4)knowledge translation/mobilization. These fourstages are used to draw out the tensions re-searchers experience in their CBPR partnershipswith Indigenous peoples. Our goal is to create aplatform from which CBPR researchers may criti-cally reect on their own practice.

    Research design

    Unlike conventional research, the creation andnurturing of researcher-community relationships,from design to dissemination and beyond, isintegral to CBPR. However, how that relation-ship begins varies widely. In an ideal world,community-based research is initiated by thecommunity (R3) but the reality is that, more of-ten than not, CBPR research is still researcher-initiated. Frequently the motto that I preach,which is responsive research and community ledand so on, tends to be more rhetoric thanpractice. . . [for] lots of really good reasons. Com-munities are busy, theres lots of reasons whythese things dont always work out the way you

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    think they might ethically (R5). Less than halfthe respondents reported that their most re-cent research project stemmed from their ownpre-existing relationships with Indigenous com-munities and organizations. Research partner-ships typically formed as a result of workingin collaboration with a community or organiza-tion. Over time, and by demonstrating the fourRs of Indigenous research (Kirkness and Barn-hardt 1991, 1), these relationships grew intocommunity-university research partnerships.

    Although researchers and Indigenous commu-nities may agree in principle to partner on aproject, this agreement does not automaticallysignal the start of a conventional study (i.e.,data collection does not necessarily begin imme-diately).

    My Dean asked me two years into my project whyI hadnt published yet out of it and he had no ideawhat I was talking about when I told him I spentthe rst year drinking tea, you know? [laughter]Because it took several visits to the community,a lot of patience and sitting down and talking topeople and deciding how would be the best wayof going about doing this, getting them to a pointwhere they trusted me to be a partner in doing[research] with them and to do it the right way,before we ever really even embarked on collectingany kind of data. (R7)

    Respondents agreed that spending time in In-digenous communities engaging in conversationwith members of the community and activelylistening to and respecting the ideas of Indige-nous knowledge-holders is essential to establish-ing relationships based on mutual trust. Thechallenges and the opportunities that you canhave in engaging communities starts with. . . arespectful standpoint, an ethical standpoint, reci-procity and listening, listening to what communi-ties want (R2). Finding that time, however, wascited as one of the greatest challenges; otherchallenges include institutional barriers and -nancial resources.

    Theres this kind of constant Catch-22 where youneed to have ethics approval to go and workwith communities, which is understandable butyou cant really develop a proposal or get theethics unless you actually go and talk to themrst. So, it kind of goes back and forth. Same with

    funding. You need funding to get up there, but ifits not research you often cant get funding. . . Ithink thats kind of a critical issue that a lot ofpeople face in trying to do this kind of work. (R12)

    Being welcomed into a long-standing part-nership based on aliation with a seniorscholar who has a pre-established partner-ship was another means for gaining accessto Indigenous communities and organizations.In other instances, respondents stated thatthey were known to the Indigenous commu-nity through previous work as consultants andwere subsequently approached by the Indigenouscommunity for scholarly research. While manyacademics occupy both roles, these respondentswere explicit about the fact that they were ac-tively sought as consultants rst. Once they be-gan academic careers, they were further soughtafter as research partners, having already in-vested the time to establish mutual trust. In oneinstance, an Indigenous community approached auniversity-based researcher (R14) to partner on aproject of mutual interest (the ideal CBPR pro-cess). During the proposal development phase,both the researcher and the community decidedthat developing a research partnership would beeective and benecial for both parties.

    Meeting community representatives or orga-nizational leaders at events such as confer-ences and community gatherings was anotherway to exchange research ideas and initiate con-tacts. However, partnerships do not always re-sult from deliberate planning. As one respondentnoted, It started out as a research project forwhich we [the researchers] were seeking fundingand thought there was some applicability to is-sues that we had observed in that [Indigenous]community. . . [We] approached the community tosee if they would be willing to have their nameon the research proposal (R7).

    While the majority of respondents indi-cated that community partners were involvedwith the initial design and provided continu-ous intellectual input during research proposaldevelopment, two respondents indicated they ini-tially suggested and pitched (R3) the studyto their Indigenous community partners. Thiswas part of the challenge, when we actually gotthe [seed] funding then we sent out invitationsto. . . all First Nations [in the region] mainly for

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    geographic purposes because then we could ac-tually do it without spending a small fortune totravel (R9). In these situations, it was only afterthe community agreed to participate as partnersin the research project that the communitys vi-sion was integrated into the proposal.

    Respondents who directly approached Indige-nous communities indicated that this was theonly way to establish a relationship and initiateresearch within their area of expertise; while itwas not the ideal, it was a step they found eth-ically and practically necessary to conduct CBPR.Recognizing the potentially problematic nature ofthis approach, a respondent described her initialcontact as follows: I didnt bully my way in, butI certainly wasnt invited (R4).

    Data collection

    Conventional research is often viewed as a one-way transfer of information from participants toresearchers that is then analyzed and interpretedbefore being disseminated to the academy andbroader society. One respondent commented onthis unilateral process as expressed to her by anIndigenous community member:

    There is a playful analogy [about] researchers andsnow geese [in the community]. . . snow geese [andresearchers] arrive in the beginning of the summer,they make a mess of everythingand you knowwhat kind of mess I meanand then they leave atthe end of the summer without saying goodbye . . .only to come up the following summer without in-vitation to make a mess all over again. (R4)

    But CBPR, in theory, is rooted in a processof knowledge exchange that by and large takesplace during the data collection phase; one re-spondent describes this process as: a two-waystreet [with] the researcher learn[ing] as muchfrom the community as the community will learnfrom the researcher (R2). Moreover, most re-searchers working with Indigenous communitiesare non-Indigenous and this brings additionalopportunities for cross-cultural learning and re-ection (see de Leeuw et al., this issue, 180).This type of cross-cultural exchange between re-searchers and community is very, very importantbecause [we] can [all] understand and respectthat there are dierences [between us] (R2). Get-ting knowledge exchange underway through the

    data collection phase in CBPR often involves theemployment of local community members. Ofthe 15 respondents, 13 indicated they hademployed local community members for thepurpose of collecting data. Hiring communitytranslators for the data collection phase was alsoa means of involving additional members of thecommunity in situations where there was a lan-guage barrier. As one respondent put it, commu-nity researchers from the Indigenous communitywere much more eective [in initiating] the datacollection process and be[ing] the primary personof contact. . . because they are trusted (R7).

    While hiring local people to contribute to aproject has a wealth of benets, there are alsosome challenges to consider. For example, com-munity dynamics and inter-personal relations arecomplex, an issue that some respondents didnot anticipate at the outset of their researchprojects. One respondent noted that [the com-munity researcher I hired] was well-liked in thecommunity, which as I found out with otherpeople Id worked with, it was really importantto try to nd people that were (pause) didnthave too much baggage, which is hard in smallcommunities. . . I mean, wherever you live (R4).In another instance, a community resident em-ployed as a research assistant was attempting torecruit a community member to a study througha home visit; the research assistant was askedto leave immediately but not until the potentialrecruit criticized the individual and the researchproject. The university-based researcher later dis-covered that this research assistant had previ-ously been involved in a relationship with thecommunity members relative that had not endedwell. This is a challenge for outside researcherswho conduct eldwork with no knowledgeof interpersonal community or organizationaldynamics.

    Of the respondents who hired local datacollectors or translators, half provided theircommunity-based assistants with additionaltraining on university-based research ethics in-volving humans or research methods. This pointis particularly worth noting given the legacyof unethical research on Indigenous peoples.Interestingly, the benets of this form of ca-pacity building for the community were largelyviewed by the respondents as an indirect benetfrom a research project rather than an explicit

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    goal. Given that the tenets of CBPR includecommunity-level empowerment, sharing knowl-edge on ethical guidelines and university-basedprotocols of (for example) informed consent isimportant as highlighted by the following storyrecounted by a respondent from a story told toher by a community member:

    You [the university-based researcher] would be soproud of me [Indigenous community member]. . .wehad a Band Council meeting today and they pulledme in. . . there was somebody there who wantedto do some research in the community and theygave us very little information about what theywanted to do and just assumed that. . .wed puta rubber stamp on it and let them go abouttheir business. . .and I gave them a really hardtime. . .based on everything that I now understandresearch to be and what the obligations of the re-searcher are to the community. (R7)

    Rather than perpetuating a legacy of unethi-cal research, involving community from designto dissemination in CBPR contributes to capacitybuilding as well as autonomy by giv[ing] peoplea better understanding of research and thereforethe condence to participate more in research, tointeract better with researchers who come intotheir communities, (and, by the same standard,rejecting research proposal that do not t withcommunity concerns) and developing skills thatcould be of use long after my project is gone(R7). In terms of positive legacy outcomes ofCBPR, over one-third of the respondents notedthat community members who had worked onresearch projects had gone on to pursue under-graduate, graduate, or post-graduate training.

    Data analysis

    Although engaging members of Indigenous com-munities in data analysis contributes to a robustinterpretation of both language and cultural con-tent, in only one instance did a community-basedresearcher participate in the analysis and writ-ing phases. According to the respondent, approx-imately 85 percent of everything [we did went]through [this community research assistant](R12). However, of the remaining respondents,only two indicated that community memberswere involved with data analysis leading topreliminary ndings. Most of those interviewed

    indicated that, whether through a communitymeeting or by providing a copy of the pre-liminary ndings prior to the writing phase,community members were able to actively re-view ndings. However, many respondents alsoagreed that community members are often unin-terested in reviewing lengthy, jargon-lled, aca-demic manuscripts (see Koster et al., this is-sue, 195). One respondent noted that when wewould go back with reports and things, most ofthe time they didnt particularly want to spend alot of time vetting things. They just trusted thatwe were doing the right thing and doing it welland o we went (R6). Respondents empathizedwith the lack of interest in reviewing such docu-ments and considered community meetings to bethe best means of engaging community membersin the review and corroboration of results.

    Respondents also alluded to the trepidationthey experienced in sharing intellectual control:theres nothing scarier than [CBPR]. Youre atthe mercy of the community (R3). While thisdemonstrates one respondents reservations con-cerning the risks associated with engaging inshared analysis with community partners, it alsohighlights the power imbalances that remainwithin conventional research processes. CBPR isintended to reverse the conventional power dy-namic in the research process by giving voiceand controlto those participating in the re-search:

    [Shared analysis] increases accuracy, it providescontext, it ensures a community voice, its respect-ful, its [analysis] with community not about com-munity. [In our case], when the results were mixed,including some negative results, we had a long dis-cussion with the community as to whether theyshould be published or not because negative re-sults always lead, can lead to stigmatization andother unforeseen consequences afterwards. (R13)

    All of the respondents noted the impact of -nancial and time constraints on their CBPR re-lationships. This was particularly on the mindsof those respondents engaged in partnershipswith northern and remote Indigenous communi-ties. In preparing proposals and managing bud-gets, some of the respondents acknowledged thatbudgetary constraints led to decisions to excludeIndigenous community members in data analy-sis. Moreover, respondents said that despite a

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    willingness on the communitys part to engage,the time and space to do so were limited. Theability for (often small) Indigenous communitiesto partake and invest their members time in re-search initiatives was identied as one of themost practical yet challenging aspect of CBPR(see de Leeuw et al., this issue, 180).

    Knowledge translation/mobilization

    Respondents undertook a wide range of ap-proaches to knowledge translation/mobilization.While some took on the role themselves, oth-ers engaged community members in meaning-ful ways at various points throughout the study(integrated knowledge translation/mobilization)and at the conclusion (end-of-grant knowl-edge translation/mobilization) by means ofco-presentations at conferences, encouragingcommunity members to write about the researchfor local newspapers, or co-writing the resultsof their research (see Mulrennan et al., this is-sue, 243). Community members receive national[and] international invitations to present andconsult with either Indigenous research projectsor other participatory-based research projects.For instance, one community member and my-self were just back from presenting as keynotespeakers to [an international health researchconference]. . . on community-based participatoryresearch (R13). Beyond disseminating resultsin conventional peer-reviewed academic journalsand at conferences, all of the respondents in-dicated that they used additional communica-tion outlets to ensure community participants,leaders, and members at large were able to ac-cess the outcomes of their studies. For example,interactive blogs, radio announcements, pub-lic dialogues, posters, high-quality photographs,short lms, curriculum development, sciencecamps, school lectures, and summaries printedon assorted paraphernalia (e.g., coee mugs)had proven successful amongst these respon-dents. There was general consensus amongst therespondents, however, that knowledge transla-tion/mobilization was context-specic and thatwhat might work for one community might notwork for another.

    Knowledge translation/mobilization, especiallywith respect to academic publication, was of-ten discussed as a particular challenge of the

    partnership. Without a memorandum of under-standing or formal research agreement outliningpublication expectations and intellectual propertyownership at the outset of a research project, re-spondents often felt torn between the publish-ing requirements of their institution (for tenure,promotion, and annual salary review) and thepreferences of the community. They were alsoaware of the importance of continually main-taining open lines of communication about othernon-academic publications and presentations re-lated to their research with community partners.One respondent acknowledged this by saying,Im always worried when anything gets out thatI havent told them about rst because it can beperceived as me violating the conditions of ourpartnership (R7). Furthermore, the researcherwho expressed concern with involving commu-nity partners in data analysis also expressed con-cern over community disagreement with ndings:

    Certainly Ive heard a number of stories about [re-searchers] . . .where the [Indigenous] communitieshave said, No, sorry, you cant [publish] any ofthe data youve just collected over the last threeyears. Youre done. So, I think theres always thatterror and . . . [it is] something that motivates youto act ethically but it also can be a bit paralyzing.(R3)

    For respondents involved in partnershipswhere there is no formal agreement, publica-tion protocols were determined mainly on acase-by-case basis. Of the 15 respondents, sixreported using formal agreements or memo-randa of understanding prior to commencingthe research project. In these cases, dissemina-tion protocols were pre-determined and helpedminimize the potential for conict concerning is-sues such as shared authorship. Providing a levelof predictability within the often-unpredictablerealm of research partnerships, formal agree-ments were seen as an opportunity to clarifyroles and responsibilities. Not all respondentsagreed on the usefulness of formal agree-ments, however, with one participant describ-ing them as quasi-legal documents (R11),whose meanings remain open to interpretation,with an ironic parallel to the complicationsof modern interpretations of historical treatylanguage, a highly contentious issue in manyIndigenous communities. Additionally, formal

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    agreements were seen as having the potentialto fracture a trust-based relationship within pre-established partnerships. At the same time, otherrespondents saw these protocols as a signal toall researchers that, as predicted by the 1996Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Indige-nous Peoples were gathering strength and con-fronting colonial practices.

    Aboriginal . . . communities are becoming more ed-ucated to say, We want this, this, this, this andthis in place before were even going to let youtalk to us. . . . I mean, we have specically heardfrom people in all the communities weve been in,Youre not like X who did this, and its importantthat you know that you dont do that, otherwiseyou wouldnt be here.. . . They know much moreabout what they want and how to go about it. Sothings need to shift for people who want to docommunity-based research. (R6)

    As tools for understanding and navigatingpartnerships, however, all respondents agreedthat, when used, the terms of formal agree-ments should be conceptualized and mutuallydeveloped within the context of each community-university partnership and applied according tothe will of the partnering community. Meanwhile,institutional barriers to upholding these agree-ments exist. One of the things Ive had to ghtwith [institutional] ethics [review boards] aboutwith community-based research is anonymity. Alot of people, when they give traditional knowl-edge, they want it acknowledged as theirs and alot of ethics boards want you to keep everyoneanonymous. So, Ive had to ght that ght quitea few times (R3).

    Coming full circle back to the importanceof relationships in CBPR, there was generalconsensus from the respondents that whilea research project may come to a naturalclose after the knowledge translation/mobili-zation activities have run their course, theresearcher-community relationships in CBPR areexpected to continue.

    Its not about the research anymore, its aboutthe relationship, and continuing to reciprocate andsupport and help. . . the expectation is, in someway, to continue the relationship, and to supportin areas that might have absolutely nothing to dowith the research. So Im the support person, and

    whatever I can do to help, I would be expected tohelp. (R6)

    But like any interpersonal relationship, somerespondents found that giving up control inCBPR and allowing the time for the 4 Rs togerminate can be a major challenge, especiallyfor junior researchers: Lets say youre a stu-dent and youre doing a Masters thesis or a PhD,and your committees pushing you to get done,you know, within a year or whatever. . . [gettingcommunity approval throughout your study andto publish the results of your CBPR work] isa very time-consuming process. . . and thereforesomewhat nerve-wracking (R8). With the pres-sures of the academy as well as those stemmingfrom partnering Indigenous communities bearingdown on researchers, we see evidence that CBPRin practice is much more challenging to opera-tionalize than CBPR in theory.

    Discussion: CBPRAll myrelationships

    Geographers engagement with the disciplinescentral themes (e.g., time, space, place, scale,human-nature relations) has contributed to on-going colonial relations in Canada. Geography,like many other disciplines, has also under-gone paradigm shifts from a focus on descrip-tion, to deeply racist characterizations of theother, to largely unreective positivism, andfrom there to structuralism, humanism, post-structuralism, feminism, etc. (Cloke et al. 1991).Throughout these paradigm shifts, research hasgenerally remained rooted in a researcher drivenfour-staged procedural model. Beginning with re-search design, leading to data collection andanalysis, and concluding with knowledge trans-lation/mobilization, this approach is intended toproduce new knowledge of use to the disciplineand the academy (Kwan 2004). While Indige-nous scholars and non-Indigenous scholar-alliesargue that this model is complicit in produc-ing socio-historical circumstances that are under-mining Indigenous peoples autonomy in Canadadespite emerging ethical guidelines (Battiste andYoungblood Henderson 2000), CBPR is an at-tempt to challenge this convention, empower In-digenous peoples through shared ownership of

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    the research processes and outcomes, and re-duce power imbalances between university-basedresearchers and Indigenous communities.

    By undertaking research with rather thanon Indigenous communities, CBPR has the po-tential to break down conventional researchprocesses by emphasizing a robust level of com-munity involvement that (ideally) leads to the co-production of culturally respectful, relevant, andempowering knowledge. However, as the ndingsfrom this study suggest, individual researchersinterpretations of the principles of CBPR andhow they are mobilized remain highly variable.We contend that while the theory behind Indige-nous CBPR is sound, putting CBPR into action isnot without its challenges. The problems or ten-sions that emerged from the data are discussedin detail below, framed by the four phases ofthe research enterprise. Ironically, these tensionshave a geographic bent to them, particularly withrespect to the ways in which social relations oc-cur through time and space/place.

    During the initial phase of research team de-velopment and design, it was clear that thefour Rs of Indigenous research (respect, rele-vance, reciprocity, and responsibility) were onthe minds of these researchers and at the fore-front of their decision-making. As one researcher(R3) said, the ideal way to engage in Indige-nous CBPR is for Indigenous communities to ap-proach researchers. Herein lies a gap, especiallyfor junior scholars or established scholars want-ing to transition into Indigenous CBPR as neitherwill have established relationships with Indige-nous communities. How do they begin the con-versation, let alone develop relationships, in theabsence of familiarity? While some researcherswere introduced by way of already-establishedrelationships or through senior scholars, othersplaced cold calls and still others secured fundingand then approached communities with a fundedproject in hand. Thus research questions and re-search designs were often pre-determined.

    Two equally important courses of action areavailable to address this gap. First, several In-digenous organizations, some of which receiveTri-Council funding, now work eectively tomatch researchers with Indigenous communities.For example, the nine CIHR-funded NEAHR (Net-work Environments for Aboriginal Health Re-search) Centres across Canada provide a bridge

    between communities and researchers to expresstheir interests, develop relationships, and buildpartnerships; the NEAHRs also provide seedfunding for research development. Other organi-zations include the National Collaborating Cen-tre for Aboriginal Health and the First NationsEnvironmental Health Innovation Network; bothprovide similar support. Interestingly, similar toits lead role in research ethics development (i.e.,CIHRs Guidelines), health research policy appearsto be at the forefront of addressing gaps inIndigenous research as they emerge. The othercourse of action is simply to get involved in localevents: attend cultural activities, visit the localNative Friendship Centre, read local and nationalIndigenous-owned newspapers, and listen (listen,listen) respectfully to the community members,leaders, and Elders concerning the issues that areimportant to them. As relationships form andrelevant research ideas germinate, those consid-ering research partnerships will have opportu-nities to actively investigate community-speciccultural protocols and values. By taking the time(weeks, but more often, months, and longer) tolearn about a communitys previous experienceswith research, researchers may engage with thecommunity more eectively through a nuancedand holistic understanding of past and currentissues. Doing so will indicate whether a partic-ular set of research skills can be applied to aparticular problem facing an Indigenous commu-nity or communities and equally important, itwill lead to the development of mutual trust informing a partnership (see Mulrennan et al., thisissue, 243).

    These two courses of action naturally lead toa second gap, already hinted at: should fund-ing for research be sought and secured beforeconversations begin? Given the substantial time(and often) nancial commitment to undertak-ing the critical activities described above, this isa complicated matter, especially when the pro-posed research setting is in a geographicallyisolated or remote location, as is the case formany Indigenous communities in Canada. Is therange of activities associated with CBPR evenpossible for urban-based university researcherswanting to engage geographically distant Indige-nous communities? And if so, who should initi-ate research. On the one hand, the CBPR idealwould indicate that relationship building and

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    partnership development should take place, initi-ated by the community, before funding is sought.On the other hand, the CBPR reality for mostin this study suggests that this is precisely whereCBPR theory and mobilization rst diverge. Eitherway, there are costs associated with the initial re-search development phase: peoples time, travel,meeting space, refreshments, gift exchange whereappropriate (as per relevant cultural protocols),and honoraria for engagement with (especially)Elders and other expert knowledge-holders in thecommunity who may not hold full-time employ-ment or have research as part of their employ-ment portfolio. These individuals often becomecritical cultural guides and communication con-duits to the community and, when asked in aculturally appropriate way, are frequently willingto either serve as members of the research teamor as the research teams community-based ad-visory committee (these roles also need to beconsidered when developing research budgets interms of compensation for their time through-out the duration of the study). A place for theseknowledge-holders is also needed in the academy(e.g., thesis committee membership, external ex-aminers, peer-reviewers, etc.).

    CIHR, again, has responded to this is-sue by creating a granting program to sup-port meeting, planning, and dissemination,available during three periods of the yearlygranting cycle. SSRHC has also recently estab-lished research partnership development grants(which have some degree of similarity to SSHRCsformer Community-University Research Allianceresearch grants). NSERC appears to have sim-ilar capacity in this area as well. Speakingonly with respect to CIHR and SSHRC, evidenceof community support is required. This sup-port often must be shown in the form of let-ters of community collaboration but also, insome cases, the completion of standardized elec-tronic CVs, which is a further time, coordina-tion, and accessibility complication. Beyond that,another major issue is that Tri-Council-fundedprincipal investigators and their co-investigatorscannot be paid from a grant; if Indigenouscommunities are participating in or leading thedirection of the research, they may not benet -nancially according to the Tri-Councils allowableexpenses. The Tri-Councils nancial policy con-tradicts its own ethics guidelines (TCPS2), which

    states that Indigenous communities should guideand benet from research. As a result, struc-tural inequalities and insensitivities built into theTri-Council funding process itself make ethicalresearch very dicult (Oce of Community-Based Research 2009).

    Moving to the second phase of research, thedata collection period for most of our respon-dents was also a period when the four Rs of In-digenous research (Kirkness and Barnhardt 1991)continued to be centre-stage. Of the 15 respon-dents, 13 engaged community members directlyin the research enterprise by hiring members ofthe Indigenous community to coordinate or as-sist with data collection, either through recruit-ment and translation when the research involvedhuman participation or with physical data col-lection when the research involved biophysicalstudies. While employing and training communitymembers in research is a laudable trait of CBPR,it is not without its own complications (e.g., un-derstanding and navigating interpersonal com-munity dynamics). The reality is that Indigenouscommunities are complex social, economic, andpolitical contexts; these complexities are exacer-bated by colonialism. But also, as the literaturepoints out and further to the analogy about re-searchers likened to snow geese, there is concernamong some scholars and Indigenous commu-nities that implanting western research theoriesand methodsand, therefore, western valuesinto communities is simply another form of colo-nialism. They call for Indigenous methodologies(see, for example, the notion of research as cere-mony found in Wilson 2008) and the blending ofIndigenous and Western methodologies (see, forexample, the concept of Two-Eyed Seeing foundin Bartlett et al. forthcoming) to approach re-search involving Indigenous peoples.

    Involving community in all stages of theresearch process is integral to upholding thetenets of CBPR. It was during the third stage ofdata analysis, however, that we see a substantialreduction in the level of engagement amongstthe researchers in this study. This was true forboth the extent of the engagement of the re-searchers in the community as well as the extentof the engagement of community members inthe research. In pragmatic terms, the time andcost commitments are high. Shrinking researchbudgets and the already higher cost of

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    engaging in CBPR in contrast to conventionalresearch make mobilization at this phase partic-ularly problematic. There are also the temporalbarriers to engaging in CBPR. Most universitiesoperate on a semester system whereby re-searchers typically have teaching responsibilitiesfrom September to April and university-basedservice (e.g., student supervision and committeework) as well as grant writing and writing forpublication year round. This leaves relativelylimited time to drink tea (relational ethics) orcollect data: the summer months. But it isat this time, the snow goose season, whenIndigenous community members who might oth-erwise be quite willing to engage in research areoften out on their traditional lands.11 Analyses,therefore, tend to be undertaken back at theuniversity in between these other academic re-sponsibilities with preliminary and nal analysesreturned to the community for corroboration.Creativity and innovation in the academy isclearly needed to address these challenges andto make community engagement in data collec-tion and analyses more meaningful, with moreopportunity for knowledge exchange and theco-creation of new knowledge.

    On a more fundamental level, while many re-spondents were comfortable with sharing prelim-inary results of analyses with community part-ners, there was reluctance to loosen intellectualcontrol over analysis. Doing so, however, canprovide opportunities for researchers to engagewith potentially re-orienting characteristics ofdierent epistemological beliefs12 and ontologi-cal positions, and to explore how these may in-uence our own. Furthermore, this phase, which

    11Of course with appropriate resources, researchers can connectwith community members out on the land and, in many in-stances, this is actually preferable.

    12When referring to community-university partnerships and thepresence of dierent foundational epistemologies, most of thepartnerships operated within a cross-cultural context whereinnon-Indigenous researchers work with Indigenous communi-ties, and operated from a dierent cultural background thanthe Indigenous participants. However, both within this studyand within academia, there is an increase, albeit slow, inwhich Indigenous scholars are working with Indigenous com-munities, even their home communities. Although beyond thescope and focus of this paper, these situations can presenttensions of a dierent nature (for a discussion on insider-outsider Indigenous research see Castleden and Kurszewski2000; for additional discussion on Indigenous scholars balanc-ing academic and community obligations see Turner 2006).

    was described by one respondent as nothingscarier. . .. Youre at the mercy of the commu-nity (R3), has the potential to be a process bywhich mutual respect and community empower-ment takes place. By inverting the researchersdecision-making power and putting this power inthe hands of the researched, CBPR researcherscan contribute to the process of decolonizing theacademy (Castleden et al. 2008). Just as conven-tional ways of knowing have produced particularphysical, social, and political realities, Indigenousways of knowing may formulate new paradigmsor explanatory frameworks that help us establisha greater equilibrium and congruence betweenthe literate view of the world and the realitywe encounter when we step outside the walls ofthe Ivory Tower (Kirkness and Barnhardt 1991,8). This creation of new knowledge will be im-portant in addressing issues critical to human-ity over the course of the new millennium. Forexample, active engagement in analysis with In-digenous knowledge-holders may give us addi-tional insights with which to address issues suchas climate and land use change by, for example,the development of sustainable resource use andstewardship (see Ford et al., this issue, 275).

    Respondents typically re-engaged the tenetsof CBPR in integrated and end-of-grant knowl-edge translation/mobilization activities. As notedin the literature, one of the most often citedproblems with researchers entering Indigenouscommunities is the parachute nature of theirengagement in which researchers collect data ata time convenient to them, with little to no com-munication before, during, or after the study.The respondents in this study expressed thesame concern and relayed such community com-ments as [other researchers who had been here]didnt even send a nal report (R6) in refer-ence to this practice. In contrast, our respon-dents used multiple avenues to not only sharethe results of their co-created knowledge butalso to acknowledge Indigenous contributions to-wards achieving those results in academic andcommunity knowledge translation/mobilizationactivities (for a detailed discussion of these re-spondents perspectives on authorship in CBPR,see Castleden et al. 2010). However, there wasa range of perspectives amongst this smallpool of respondents concerning what constitutedenough integrated and end-of-grant knowledge

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    translation/mobilization and ways of acknowl-edging contributions by non-academic membersof research teams. Interestingly, while three ofthe 15 respondents mentioned the OCAP prin-ciples at some point in their interviews, mak-ing reference to the existence of these principles,only one respondent (R8) actually claried howtheir partnered research met the criteria.

    Clearly, the ways in which these respondentsmobilized the tenets of CBPR varied from re-searcher to researcher. Also, for any one re-searcher, these processes vary from project toproject. These variations are not due to a lackof understanding of what CBPR is in theory; theliterature makes this quite clear. It may be dueto the amount of experience a researcher hasin terms of engaging in CBPR or it may be re-lated to the length and depth of relationshipsbetween researchers and Indigenous communitypartners. These are directions for future study.Other matters that we have not explored in asystematic way, but that are worthy of consid-eration, are gendered analyses of CBPR and thestage of career for those engaged in what Indige-nous communities consider research in a goodway (Ball and Janyst 2008, 33). Of the 15 re-spondents in this study, 12 are women. It wouldbe interesting to expand on this study to look atwhether more academic women are engaging inCBPR, why they are choosing this path, and howthey juggle their academic-community-personalresponsibilities. It is also worth noting that ofthe 15 respondents, 10 were tenured; conceiv-ably they may be able to devote more time todevelop relationships but this notion needs fur-ther exploration. Notwithstanding the above re-search directions, perhaps most important is anexploration of how Indigenous communities un-derstand and value the ways in which university-based research is being undertaken in light ofTCPS2. Further research with Indigenous commu-nities is warranted to identify, document, andunderstand their perspectives regarding the ethi-cal challenges they face in terms of participatingin CBPR.


    The ndings from this exploratory study sug-gest that the theoretical tenets of CBPR,

    shared decision-making power, co-ownership, bi-directional research capacity, co-learning andcross-cultural exchange, and co-creation of newknowledge, are not easily mobilized in practice.Theoretically, adhering to the tenets of CBPRwill lead to the creation of an organic researchrelationship; one that has the ability to oper-ate with the communitys priorities for researchthat is meaningful and useful. For researchers,academic obligations including semester-basedteaching and committee work as well as fund-ing cycles, lengthy ethics review processes, andtenure and promotion requirements, make mo-bilizing CBPR from the academy a clear andpersistent challenge. Community obligations in-cluding relationship building and relationshipnurturing activities as well as political cycles andlengthy periods in which community membersare out on the land or inaccessible for other rea-sons, make the reality of operationalizing CBPRin the community a ght (R3) with REBs, anda scary (R3) and nerve-wracking (R8) propo-sition for even those researchers who are al-ready actively engaged in forms of CBPR. Thesetensions may lead researchers to short-cut thetenets of CBPR and ultimately, as one respondent(R5) stated, engage in more rhetoric than ethi-cal practice. This is not to say that a standard-ized or overarching framework should be forcedupon researchers or the Indigenous communitieswith whom they partner. There is no one-size-ts-all CBPR framework. It is the dynamic natureof CBPR that allows the negotiation of a deli-cate balance between communities needs and re-searchers agendas.

    Despite the many incompatibilities between thetenets of CBPR and the structure of the academy,it is essential that the ideas and needs of com-munity partners be addressed and respected inthe academy as increasingly complex researchprojects are undertaken. There is a growing de-mand to see collaboration and partnership inresearch from the Tri-Council (e.g., SSHRCs orig-inal CURA grants and now its new programmaticarchitecture includes Partnership grants; CIHR isputting out more calls for grant proposals thatengage knowledge-users in the research design).Accordingly, this exploratory article is intendedto contribute to dialogue amongst Canadian ge-ographers and others about ways in which ten-sions between CBPR theory and practice can

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  • Researchers perspectives on CBPR 177

    be minimized. Geographers engaging in researchinvolving Indigenous peoples are encouragedto critically reect on their own practices tobetter address the history of unethical researchthat has, for decades, plagued Indigenous com-munities. For those who are considering thisapproach, a good place to start is the TCPS2 Tu-torial for Chapter 9 (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC2010b); an even better place would be over teain the community.


    The authors wish to gratefully thank the research partici-pants who willingly took part in this study. The authors alsoacknowledge and appreciate the constructive critiques re-ceived on earlier versions of this manuscript from the guesteditors of this special issue, the editor of The Canadian Ge-ographer , and three external reviewers; any errors or omis-sions are our own. The lead author was a postdoctoral fellowwith and received seed grant funding from the Network Envi-ronments for Aboriginal Research British Columbia (NEARBC)during this study.


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