2 - Understanding The First Nations Principles of OCAP®

What is First Nations Data?

Data, information and knowledge, in any format, that impacts indigenous peoples, nations, and communities at the collective and individual levels:

  • Data on resources and environments such as land, water, geology, titles, air, soil, sacred sites, territories, animals, etc.
  • Data about individuals such as administrative, legal, health, social, commercial, corporate, services, etc.
  • Data from nations such as traditional and cultural information, archives of oral histories, literature, ancestral and clan knowledge, stories, belongings, etc.

Please watch the below video in full before moving on.

A Brief History of OCAP®

The First Nations Principles of OCAP® were created in 1998 during a National Steering Committee of the First Nations and Inuit Regional Longitudinal Health Survey.

Laws do not recognize First Nations community's ownership over their own data. OCAP® was created to allow First Nation communities to use and share information in a way that benefits their communities.

OCAP® allows each First Nations community control over their own data. They are able to pass their own privacy laws and standards. Each First Nations community has the right to apply the principles as they wish.

Anyone conducting research about First Nations communities must abide by OCAP®.

OCAP®'s Meaning

Ownership: This principle states that a community or group owns information collectively in the same way that an individual owns his or her personal information.

Control: Affirms that First Nations, their communities, and representative bodies are within their rights to seek control over all aspects of research and information management processes that impact them.

Access: First Nations must have access to information and data about themselves and their communities regardless of where it is held. The principle of access also refers to the right of First Nations communities and organizations to manage and make decisions regarding access to their collective information.

Possession: While ownership identifies the relationship between a people and their information in principle, possession or stewardship is more concrete: it refers to the physical control of data. Possession is the mechanism by which ownership can be asserted and protected.

OCAP® allows First Nations to control their cultural knowledge, which allows them the self-determination to persevere and develop their own culture.

First Nations Data and the FAIR and CARE Principles

Be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) and CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, Ethics).

The FAIR principles, published by a collective of scientists and organizations in 2016, are aligned with OCAP® and build upon its foundation. Both frameworks emphasize the importance of respecting Indigenous data sovereignty, community control, and the rights of Indigenous peoples in data-related matters. Together, OCAP® and the FAIR principles provide a comprehensive framework for the ethical and respectful treatment of Indigenous data. 

The CARE principles were created in response to the FAIR principles by the Global Indigenous Data Alliance, enabling the consideration of collective benefit, authority to control, responsibility and ethics in working with research data.

These principles put people first and acknowledge data in advancing Indigenous innovation and self-determination. They respect Indigenous rights to data sovereignty, recognizing that data about Indigenous peoples should be controlled by them and reflect their values, priorities, and cultures.

OCAP® and the CARE principles are distinct frameworks. They are related in their shared commitment to respecting Indigenous rights, cultures, and well-being. OCAP® provides specific guidelines for the handling of Indigenous data, while the CARE principles offer a broader ethical framework for respectful and empathetic interactions with Indigenous communities, including those related to data and research.

You can optionally watch the webinar below for a more in-depth look at the CARE principles of Indigenous Data Governance.

Ready to continue? Let's learn about How The First Nations Principles of OCAP® Applies at EA.