Doing research differently: learning from Indigenous women

Shauna MacKinnon


The City of Winnipeg is a mid-size city situated in the centre of Canada. It has the largest percentage of Indigenous people of all Canadian cities. While Indigenous people reside in all areas of the city, a high number reside in the inner-city of Winnipeg in neighbourhoods where poverty and all of its related challenges are pervasive. It is also the case that Indigenous led development is having a transformative impact for many. Indigenous women in particular have long been the leaders in inner-city development and they are increasingly interested in engaging in research to assess the impact of their work.

In 2006 I had the privilege of working with a small group of women and together we began our journey of doing research together. They were clear from the onset that as Indigenous people for whom research has caused great harm, they wanted to take a different approach. In this article I tell the story of a research process that developed over many months and forever transformed my approach to research.  I continue to learn a great deal from Indigenous women in my community who challenge me to move beyond Western methods and be open to Indigenous worldviews and multiple ways of knowing rooted in experiential knowledge.


Local development; Participatory research

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