Across Canada, Aboriginal communities are considering how information and communication technologies (ICT) can help them reach their development goals. Research on ICT with Aboriginal Communities (RICTA), a new research cluster, is building a critical mass of knowledge that Aboriginal communities can both contribute to and tap into on their paths to achieving their aspirations.
RICTA is about building alliances of support for action-research approaches and building bridges between academic, government and funding institutions and Aboriginal communities. The research fostered by the RICTA cluster will be intellectually important if it can be applied in meaningful ways in Aboriginal communities and create a research environment in which Aboriginal peoples become active participants, preparing for the possibilities and challenges that are upon us now and await us in the future.
The RICTA cluster members are more than 40 people working with universities, community research institutes, Aboriginal organizations, government and the private sector. RICTA is creating a space to challenge the status quo both at the funding and at the academic institution levels. The RICTA platform has the potential to create a legitimate voice for change to shift both funding and research organizations.
RICTA has the potential to set out a framework of contemporary Aboriginal Peoples ICT projects that not only focus on the ‘decolonization aspirations’ of particular Aboriginal communities but also gaze towards the development of global research and Indigenous strategic alliances. RICTA has the potential to develop a model for collaborative research that could be emulated in other community settings in Canada and in developing regions.
Working with Aboriginal communities implies conducting research that is inclusive and respectful of the experiences, knowledge and wisdom of different cultures and recognizing non-Western and non-scientific frameworks for conducting and disseminating research.