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REF NO.: 51

SUBJECT: Memorial University national leader with adoption of Indigenous research policy

DATE: July 28

Memorial University of Newfoundland has a new groundbreaking Indigenous research policy.


The university’s Board of Regents recently approved Memorial’s Research Impacting Indigenous Groups policy – the first of its kind known in Canadian universities.


Good path


The policy is designed to ensure Memorial University researchers are accountable to the existing research, priorities and ethics processes of Indigenous groups. It requires researchers to engage with Indigenous groups at the very start of research to put them on a good path as projects develop.


“Memorial is deeply committed to strengthening the impact and integrity of Indigenous research from the research proposal stage and continuing through to the research phase and beyond,” said Dr. Vianne Timmons, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial.


“The approval by our Board of Regents marks a special moment in Memorial’s history, particularly in our era of reconciliation, decolonization and Indigenization.”


Meets and exceeds

The policy will provide more effective, sensitive and appropriate review of research impacting Indigenous Peoples.


It meets and exceeds the Tri-Council Policy Statement on the Ethical Conduct for Research, Chapter 9, Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.


Collaborative process


The policy's approval comes after nearly two years of engagement with the university community and external stakeholders and rights holders.


More than 2,000 people were involved in more than 60 meetings providing feedback and development of the policy, making it the most consulted policy in Memorial’s history.


In addition to these consultations, an environmental scan was conducted of related practices, policies and processes at other Canadian universities, which concluded that Memorial would be a leader in the country in establishing this critical policy.


Research by experts in Indigenous research ethics, including those from Indigenous communities in the province, was also foundational to the development of the policy.


Representative working group


The process was initiated and co-ordinated by Memorial’s Office of the Vice-President (Research), led by Dr. Max Liboiron (Métis), associate vice-president (Indigenous research).


The university’s President’s Advisory Committee on Indigenous Affairs recommended a working group to draft the policy.


That group consisted of Dr. Liboiron; Kelly Anne Butler (Mi’kmaw), student affairs officer-Indigenous affairs at the university’s Grenfell Campus; and Michele Wood (Inuk), community member in Labrador.


‘Mutually useful research’


“This policy formalizes the importance that Memorial University places in creating a reciprocally beneficial partnership that is strengthened through early dialogue and relationship building – one that is designed to create inclusive, responsive and mutually useful research,” said Ms. Wood.

Learn more about the new policy here.

The policy is part of several interlocking initiatives by the university as it moves forward in its work of truth, reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous Peoples.


On July 24, Memorial announced the establishment of the School of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Studies, the university’s first academic unit based in Labrador.


Indigenous groups in Labrador will have voting seats on the academic council of the new school, bringing those groups directly into academic decision-making.


In June Memorial was among the first universities in Canada to create and adopt an Indigenous data sovereignty agreement that recognizes Indigenous groups’ rights to own, control, access and possess their data in research.


The university also released a draft of its Strategic Framework for Indigenization 2020-25, that sets out four strategic priorities: Leadership and Partnership; Teaching and Learning; Research; and Student Success.


Within each strategic priority, actions have been identified that reflect what was heard from both Indigenous communities and the university community.




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For more information, please contact Jeff Green, senior communications advisor, Office of the Vice-President (Research), Memorial University of Newfoundland, at 709-687-9243 or


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