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Developing an Accountability Framework to Support Bridging Inuit Worldviews and the Critical Paradigm in Qualitative Research

Janna MacLachlan, Andrea Andersen, Anita C. Benoit, Earl Nowgesic, Stephanie A. Nixon

2022 Canada

Bridging Indigenous and Western paradigms in research can offer benefits but it can also be challenging because of the need to navigate power dynamics and differences in perspectives. Amid the Western epistemic norms that dominate most academic spaces in Canada, researchers must endeavour to bridge paradigms in such a way that Indigenous rights to self-determination are upheld, ensuring that Indigenous paradigms or worldviews are not subsumed by or tokenized within Western paradigms. Researchers must also be able to demonstrate the coherence of their project, showing how all aspects fit well together despite the involvement of different perspectives. This article shares lessons learned from a research project in which we aimed to coherently bridge Inuit worldviews and the critical paradigm in a manner that foregrounds Inuit perspectives. We present an accountability framework that supported project planning and decision-making in alignment with our core project intentions by prioritizing requirements for paradigm bridging. This framework was guided by concepts from or based on Inuit knowledge (i.e., piliriqatigiinniq and the Qaggiq Model) and qualitative research (i.e., meaningful coherence). We draw examples from our study to illustrate how we strove to achieve a balanced, dynamic relationship between Inuit and Western epistemologies, which was facilitated by shared points of common ground. Intentional focus was required to continually resist and redress power im- balances. We emphasize the importance of reflexivity and humility to the whole endeavour, highlighting the relevance of researcher positionality from the perspective of the Qallunaaq (White) lead researcher. While acknowledging that any effort to bridge paradigms must be specific to context, we propose that following an iterative, collaborative, reflexive, dynamic and responsive process can enable accountability to Indigenous communities and fidelity to researcher intentions. Such actions support the production of research that is meaningful, valued and useful to the population it intends to serve.

Indigenous research, critical research, research paradigms, qualitative methodologies, Indigenous rights, meaningful coherence