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Indigenous Resources - General Guide

What is Indigenous Data Sovereignty? 

Indigenous Data Sovereignty refers to the ability and right of Indigenous peoples, Nations, and communities to control, steward, access, own and participate in data that was created with or about them, their land, resources, and knowledge. 


What is Indigenous data?

"In general, data are any quantitative or qualitative information about a specific topic that are collected through observation, surveys and reporting. For the purpose of this Protocol, Indigenous data is any information that is from or about any Indigenous person or their community, territory or nation, including but not limited to their languages, Knowledges, customs or traditions, intellectual property and ideas." (Indigenous Innovation Initiative (2021). Indigenous Knowledges and Data Governance Protocol. Toronto: Indigenous Innovation Initiative)

CARE Prinicples for Indigenous Data Governance

The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance guide the appropriate use of Indigenous data and reflect the crucial role of data in advancing Indigenous innovation and self-determination. (CARE Principals 2019)
  • Collective benefit: Data ecosystems should be designed and function in ways that enable Indigenous Peoples to derive benefit from the data.
  • Authority to control: Indigenous Peoples' rights and interests in Indigenous data must be recognized and their authority to control such data should be empowered. Indigenous data governance enables Indigenous Peoples to determine how they are represented within data.
  • Responsibility: Those working with Indigenous data have a responsibility to share how this data is used to support Indigenous Peoples' self-determination and collective benefit.
  • Ethics: Indigenous Peoples' rights and wellbeing should be the primary concern at all stages of the data life cycle.
Visit the Global Indigenous Data Alliance for more information on the CARE Principles.

The First Nations Principles of OCAP®

The First Nations Principles of OCAP®  guide how First Nations’ data and information will be collected, protected, used, or shared.

"OCAP® asserts that First Nations alone have control over data collection processes in their communities, and that they own and control how this information can be stored, interpreted, used, or shared." (First Nations Information Governance Centre)

OCAP® represents the concepts of ownership, control, access, possession.

"Ownership refers to the relationship of First Nations to their cultural knowledge, data, and information. This principle states that a community or group owns information collectively in the same way that an individual owns his or her personal information.

Control affirms that First Nations, their communities, and representative bodies are within their rights to seek control over all aspects of research and information management processes that impact them. First Nations control of research can include all stages of a particular research project-from start to finish. The principle extends to the control of resources and review processes, the planning process, management of the information and so on.

Access refers to the fact that First Nations must have access to information and data about themselves and their communities regardless of where it is held. The principle of access also refers to the right of First Nations’ communities and organizations to manage and make decisions regarding access to their collective information. This may be achieved, in practice, through standardized, formal protocols.

Possession While ownership identifies the relationship between a people and their information in principle, possession or stewardship is more concrete: it refers to the physical control of data. Possession is the mechanism by which ownership can be asserted and protected."  (First Nations Information Governance Centre)

OCAP® is a registered trademark of the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC).



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