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Beyond Institutional Ethics: Anishinaabe Worldviews and the Development of a Culturally Sensitive Field Protocol for Aquatic Plant Research

Brittany Luby, Samantha Mehltretter, Robert Flewelling, Margaret Lehman, Gabrielle Goldhar, Elli Pattrick, Jane Mariotti, Andrea Bradford, Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation

2021 Canada

Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2) guides knowledge production and dissemination in Canada. While it is intended to protect vulnerable populations from harm, it fails to consider Anishinaabe worldviews and, by extension, to effectively direct ethical water research with aquatic plant life. Using Anishinaabe oral testimony and oral stories, Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation (NAN) and the University of Guelph (UofG) co-developed a culturally sensitive field protocol to respect Manomin (Wild Rice) as an other-than-human being and guide research into Manomin restoration. By illuminating key directives from NAN, this article showcases the limitations of institutional ethics in Canada. It concludes with recommendations to broaden TCPS2 to better address Anishinaabe teachings about plant and animal relations, but ultimately challenges institutional Research Ethics Boards (REBs) to relinquish control and respect Indigenous Nations’ right to govern research within their territories.

Anishinaabe worldviews; research ethics; aquatic plant life; field protocol; decolonizing methodology; First Nations