Outsider research in social work : thoughts, challenges, experience
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I wrote this article to address the question of whether or not non-Aboriginal researchers can be involved in conducting research with Aboriginal people. Most of the literature on this topic over the last decade argues that such research should be conducted by an Aboriginal person. I based this article on my experience as a non-Aboriginal person joining a research project with Aboriginal youth and Aboriginal researchers. I facilitated two sessions with the youth on topics related to their identity. In the first session, I had a discussion about working with a non-Aboriginal person and led them through a therapeutic laughter session. In the second session, I asked the youth to choose a song that they identified with in regard to their identity and we discussed why they identified with that song. After I participated in this project, I concluded that a non-Aboriginal person should be cognizant of certain factors in order to effectively engage in research with Aboriginal participants. Then they can assist participants in creating knowledge by telling their story in the manner in which they wish it to be told, even though the researcher is not Aboriginal. I identified the following factors as being important: acting as an ally; learning to walk beside/work in conjunction with Aboriginal participants; working with Aboriginal mentors and researchers; recognizing personal privilege; following Ownership, Control, Access, Possession (OCAP) principles and being involved as a learner.