What does it mean to work with Maamaawisiiwiin?

To secure and maintain funding Indigenous organizations, service providers, schools and boards of education are required to provide “evidence” of the impact of that funding. Many of those organizations do not have the in-house researchers that can do the necessary work to reveal that evidence. In addition, many of those funders do not consider in-house research to be reliable and insist on, or prefer third party research to provide an unbiased inquiry.

So why should I work with Maamaawisiiwin?

Maamaawisiiwin is committed to a process of research that is both “culturally responsive” and “relational” in its construct. Our research and evaluative studies are developed around our Indigenous cultural norms and that means, in part, establishing the necessary “relationships” that can make the difference between evidence that is reliable or not reliable.

What does culturally responsive mean?

Many non-Indigenous research organizations or consultants are unfamiliar with our cultural norms, and how those norms can shape a research study or evaluation. That lack of familiarity can mean that the evidence they do collect is not fully understood because they can only see it through their own cultural norms. That can mean that important issues that come out of the research are lost or even worse, misinterpreted.

So, what does relational mean?

When Maamaawisiiwin is contracted to work with you we are really your representative to your community. We understand the culturally realities of our peoples, our languages, our spiritual traditions and the histories that underlie many of our contemporary realities. That sensitivity is important because Maamaawisiiwin is literally an extension of your organization and an uninformed researcher may not positively enhance the relationship with your community.

The relationships involved in Indigenous research are always about those immediate people involved in a study like your management team or your board. Sometimes those relationships are about the “land”, or the people on the “land”, or the relationships with the “spirit”, with even with “ourselves”.

So how does it work?

The first stage is to meet with you and learn what your needs are. From there we build a proposal that includes deliverables, dates for completion, what we need from you and of course a detailed budget and timeline. This proposal becomes a starting point for the creation of a research team that has the right expertise to fulfill your needs.

What do you mean research team?

We have a lot of in-house expertise related to Indigenous education, training and research. We don’t know everything, but we have relationships with internationally recognized Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts that can become part of a research consortium that works on your study. Sometimes that means including local Elders or even helping to build your in-house research resource by including your people in that consortium.

A final thought

The doing of Indigenous research is extremely different from mainstream research. The dominant society conceptualizes research in a way that privileges their cultural needs. Indigenous research and evaluation is conceptualized around very different cultural norms, our cultural norms that are both “culturally responsive and “relational”. Often that means it takes more time to complete, more time to build the necessary “relationships”. It is because of this time factor that you should think about your research and evaluation needs at the beginning, literally at the funding proposal stage, not the end of a project. We would be honoured to meet with you to discuss your research needs today.