Public Release: 

Aboriginal Peoples given stronger voice in health research

Canadian Institutes of Health Research


IMAGE: Some of the lead players involved in the drafting of the CIHR Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal Peoples. Left to right: Dr. Jeff Reading, Burleigh Trevor-Deutsch, Dr. Alan Bernstein,... view more

Credit: CIHR

Ottawa (May 22, 2007) -- Aboriginal Peoples will now have greater involvement in the planning, execution and sharing of research outcomes conducted with their communities, as a result of new research ethics guidelines recently released by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The focus of the new CIHR Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal Peoples is on conducting ethical and culturally competent research that balances the pursuit of scientific excellence with Aboriginal values and traditions.

"CIHR understands that research involving Aboriginal Peoples has to be conducted in true partnership with aboriginal communities," said Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. "This is a Canadian first, and CIHR is pleased to have spearheaded this important initiative."

The Guidelines will serve as an essential tool to promote research that seeks to improve the health, well being and health care needs of Aboriginal Peoples and promote partnerships. Without Guidelines, researchers run the risk of not thoroughly taking Aboriginal traditions, culture and spiritual values into account. The Guidelines are the end product of an extensive consultation process with Aboriginal communities, researchers and institutions drawing on the CIHR funded ACADRE network - a unique university-based resource with links to academic research communities in research partnerships with regional First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities.

"The ethical considerations associated with research involving Aboriginal Peoples required careful thought and input from the aboriginal community, health researchers and leading aboriginal and non-aboriginal theorists," said Dr. Jeff Reading, Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health. "The new Guidelines hold the promise of enabling the conduct of research that aims to improve health for Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians."

"Canada has integrated the ethical issues of concern to Indigenous communities in other countries such as Australia, the United States, New Zealand, northern circumpolar nations and with the World Health Organization perspective on global indigenous health," added Burleigh Trevor-Deutsch, Director, CIHR Ethics Office. "Thus, these guildelines are on the international vanguard of ethics for research involving indigenous peoples."

The Guidelines will be an important contribution to the ongoing process established to revise Section 6 of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, which addresses research involving Aboriginal Peoples. The Tri-Council consists of Canada's three federal granting agencies: CIHR, NSRC and SSHRC.


The Guidelines are available online.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 10,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

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