Seeking data sovereignty, a First Nation introduces its own licence

Article by Caitrin Pilkington: “The Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation, or LKFN, says it is partnering with the nearby Scotty Creek research facility, outside Fort Simpson, to introduce a new application process for researchers. 

The First Nation, which also plans to create a compendium of all research gathered on its land, says the approach will be the first of its kind in the Northwest Territories.

LKFN says the current NWT-wide licensing system will still stand but a separate system addressing specific concerns was urgently required.

In the wake of a recent review of post-secondary education in the North, changes like this are being positioned as part of a larger shift in perspective about southern research taking place in the territory. 

LKFN’s initiative was approved by its council on February 7. As of April 1, any researcher hoping to study at Scotty Creek and in LKFN territory has been required to fill out a new application form. 

“When we get permits now, we independently review them and make sure certain topics are addressed in the application, so that researchers and students understand not just Scotty Creek, but the people on the land they’re on,” said Dieter Cazon, LKFN’s manager of lands and resources….

Currently, all research licensing goes through the Aurora Research Institute. The ARI’s form covers many of the same areas as the new LKFN form, but the institute has slightly different requirements for researchers.
The ARI application form asks researchers to:

  • share how they plan to release data, to ensure confidentiality;
  • describe their methodology; and
  • indicate which communities they expect to be affected by their work.

The Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation form asks researchers to:

  • explicitly declare that all raw data will be co-owned by the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation;
  • disclose the specific equipment and infrastructure they plan to install on the land, lay out their demobilization plan, and note how often they will be travelling through the land for data collection; and
  • explain the steps they’ve taken to educate themselves about Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation customs and codes of research practice that will apply to their work with the community.

Cazon says the new approach will work in tandem with ARI’s system…(More)”.