Community Research,

Planning & Development

Community Planning & Development are vital to the effective functioning of any First Nations Government.  Carden Consulting services are based upon best practices, are intended to build capacity to support First Nations control of development, and cultural revitalization, and include: 

  • Comprehensive Community Planning;
  • First Nations Government/Tribal Council research (Human Resource Strategies, organizational development, strategic planning); 
  • Community Economic Development Planning; 
  • Research Papers (e.g. First Nation youth suicide risk mitigation, First Nations dental trauma); and
  • Other sectoral planning intended to support long-term community well-being and development.

Carden Consulting Research Approach and Research Sovereignty 

Carden Consulting developmental consultants andresearch practitioners utilize an indigenous, culturally ethical, research framework that within project management limits of cost, quality and time, that is based upon a First Nations methodology and action research* approach that includes, but is not limited to:

  • Designing research recognizing our responsibility to build capacity at every step (e.g. with leadership, a committee, or project manager/student within the Nation) to make informed decisions to initially identify and use indigenous defined methodologies and epistemologies (commonly worldviews that affirm interconnection and relational responsibility/accountability), and axiology (values). This responsibility aligns with our support for UNDRIP Article 18, which recognizes that Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions. Our practice of training and facilitation utilizes culturally appropriate and trauma-informed methods that align with the Nations governing knowledge systems and practices and to the greatest degree possible in-situ.
  • Our approach to supporting research design is also performance oriented with a focus on the Nations defined goals (e.g. self-determination) utilizing the Nations ontology (understandings of their reality), and how to advance progress of those goals, including supporting the committee to design the research questions. Performance-orientation is framed within project management and comprehensive strategic planning best practices.
  • Community-engaged wherever possible that includes revitalizing traditional knowledge collective knowledge, and wisdom in planning, decision-making and issue resolution for the benefit of future generations. This capacity building approach includes supporting community-defined culturally appropriate and ethical methods that includes mixed methods that enable research triangulation that can contribute to the ownership, trustworthiness, confidence and utilization of legitimate research findings.
  • Analysis of findings is also undertaken with a steering committee that can identify themes or categories utilizing a grounded theory approach that ensures the findings relevancy and effectiveness.
  • Our action research approach also requires the research technician to deliberately support designing the research to anticipate and set up the project for subsequent phases of development by the community by future generations for future generations.

Carden Consulting frequently undertakes Indigenous Research and Training contracts, and can undertake academic research utilizing standard guidelines (e.g. APA, Tri-Council Advisory Panel on Research Ethics) upon request. 

* Action research places indigenous peoples (rather than external researchers) in charge of research who hold primary research authority (eliminating power inequalities) who seek to understand and address development needs within their community. Action Research is derived from the social sciences, and is a cyclical process that includes: planning; acting; observing; and critical reflection and evaluation.

We have always been data researchers and experts [e.g.studying the lands/environment, Elders observing children/community to plan for future generations] -  (Lucchesi, A, - Hetoevehotohke'e/Evening Star Woman, Cheyenne Nation, Jan 11, 2020, personal communication)

Indigenous Research Sovereignty 

Knowledge, information, data, and wisdom for many First Nations (who have collectivist values) is relational, earned, and shared/stewarded for the benefit of the collective.  The concept of intellectual property was created in the 19th century, and in the late 20th century intellectual property became commonplace in the world's legal systems, increasing the practice of indigenous traditional knowledge being taken for the benefit of others. While at the same time the practice of taking knowledge and owning it for individual benefit without acknowledging and removing/minimizing benefits for the originating collective contradicts this understanding of knowledge and is seen as a breach of indigenous laws, protocols, and ways of being by many indigenous peoples.

Currently, within Canada there is no legislation, developed or adopted, that clearly and effectively protects indigenous traditional knowledge minimizing misappropriation and misuse of indigenous traditional knowledge. Recognizing the need for indigenous traditional knowledge protections against cultural misappropriation or unauthorized use, and to protect current indigenous knowledge indigenous peoples around the world are utilizing intellectual property legal tools and practices through an indigenous lens respecting how we value knowledge, research, and data, which consistent with indigenous research/inquiry ethics must be accessed responsibly respecting indigenous collective control, ownership/stewardship, and benefit from indigenous knowledge.

Carden Consulting strives to support First Nation Research Governance and Data Sovereignty respecting that sovereignty was given to us by the Creator and is sacred, and data from research to exercize our sovereignty is sacred to plan and realize First Nations developmental goals for future generations.

Our goal is to support the Nations we serve to move from data dependency to data sovereignty that includes culturally ethical research*, data control, and harmful benevolence exercised by career/remote academics whose values are culture are not those of the Nation they are serving, ISC, DFO, BC, Statistics Canada. Our goal is intended to support First Nations to exercize data jurisdiction, authority, and control (e.g. research design, intellectual property) of research data for their culturally ethical research development and planning use, using a “for us by us”, eventually “for us for others” approach. This is intended to support moving data and research to move away from external research that is undertaken “by them for them” (external interests).

We also support Decolonizing Indigenous Data and Data Advocacy, which is defined as First Nations exercising jurisdiction of research and data that is developed based upon each First Nations unique values, principles, and mechanisms for the management and control (intellectual property) of indigenous data, allied inter-nation data governance*, and critical review of historical data that frequently violated our values, and misrepresents the Nations peoples. Decolonizing indigenous data includes recognizing the imperative of Nations to recognize the harms done (e.g. misrepresentation, dehumanizing language, harmful benevolence) perpetuated by current and historical research, reclaiming the narrative, and decolonizing data, literature, rewriting the narrative, and refuture the identity and reputation of their Nation.

Data sovereignty refers to the capacity (including: awareness of political responsibilities of leaders, establishing Cultural Preservation Officers, Data Champions/ Managers/ Departments/ Centres, etc.) purposefully directing funding to Nations to control, collect, own, analyze, and use data. Today, Indigenous peoples right to govern the collections, ownership, and application of their own data is recognized by the Human Rights Declaration.

* The following definitions are intended to support First Nation Data Sovereignty:

  • Indigenous Research Governance and Advocacy: harnessing indigenous values, methodologies, principles, and mechanisms for the strategy, validation, management, and control of research that impacts indigenous peoples, Nations and communities of the collective and individual levels.
  • Tribal Research Governance: harnessing a Nations way of knowing, doing and being that sets the agenda, determines the methodologies, controls the processes, and directs the outcomes of the Nations research broadly.
  • Inter-Trial Research Governance: Nations leveraging regional cultural and other inter-trial relationships, communities of practice, to enact research governance.
  • Ethical Research: is the ethical behaviour that reflects values held by peoples by which research is undertaken. Carden Consulting supports the following research principles that should influence research (in addition to laws and policies):
    • Belmont Principles:
      • Respect for persons: Individuals should be treated as autonomous agents; and Individuals with diminished autonomy are entitled to protections. 
      • Beneficence: Do no harm; Maximize possible benefits, and minimize potential harms.
      • Justice: Fair distribution of burdens and benefits of research.
  • Research should also consider: the outcomes (consequentialism) of research; deontological ethics (the principles or rules of right actions of research); and virtue ethics (research integrity). 

Recommended Links:

  • FNHA: 
  • Global Indigenous Research Alliance: 
  • US Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network: 

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We respectfully acknowledge the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and all the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast, on whose traditional and unceded territories we live, work and play.