How do you build a relationship?: Fostering relational accountability through research partnership in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Ontario

Authors: Elana Nightingale*, University of Western Ontario
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Indigenous geographies, Indigenous research methods, community-based participatory research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


What does it mean in practice for a research team to foster relational accountability across cultural and geographical contexts? Relational accountability is foundational to Indigenous research paradigms and the development of ethical research collaborations with Indigenous communities. Indigenous scholars have articulated relational accountability as the building of relationships between research partners that are grounded in trust, responsibility, reciprocity and respect, and that are fulfilled throughout the research process. This paper explores potential processes and meanings of relationship building in the context of a research partnership between the University of Western Ontario and the community of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg to reclaim traditional territory. Given a research team of diverse cultural, geographical, social and research experience, including an Indigenous scholar, non-Indigenous trainees, and Indigenous community leaders and members, the practical possibilities for and limitations to developing authentic personal, organizational and collective relationships are considered. Can a mutual understanding of relational accountability be cultivated between the constraints of institutional funding, graduate school timelines and an understaffed community department? The paper suggests community ownership over the research process, individual commitments to the research goals, and defining research roles in relation to personal and organizational webs of responsibility may be practical starting places.

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