Building successful indigenous community: Academic research partnerships
|Session Name||5.2 Participatory methods for health|
|Author(s)||Cindy Jardine (University of the Fraser Valley, Canada)|
Research partnerships between Indigenous communities and academic researchers are a mutually beneficial and effective way to co-generate the knowledge required to address important problems in the circumpolar north, such as health issues. It is commonly understood that such partnerships need to be based on relevance, reciprocity, respect, responsibility, and relationality. However, enacting these principles in practice is less well understood. This is one researcher’s reflections on developing successful research partnerships, based on experiences with multiple community partners. First and foremost, building personal relationships, and mutual trust and respect, takes time and patience. Researchers need to practice being active listeners; listening to stories is where real learning and understanding occurs. It is important to ‘give back’, and ensure that the research and results are meaningful to the community and can be used to facilitate change. Partners must share the same values and vision of community betterment, and not seek individual aggrandizement. Mentoring is vital, involving both researcher mentoring of community members to help them understand the research process, and community mentoring of the researchers to help them understand community culture, knowledge, values and dynamics. Researchers must continually and critically reflect on their own perspectives, biases and motivations. It is important for researchers to remember that their community partners have multiple professional and personal responsibilities, and that the research project may not always be their first priority. Finally, research is a fluid process that requires flexibility to respond to the needs of those involved and to changes that will inevitably occur.
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