RFNG is organized around 4 themes: Governance and Law, Land and Waters, Essential Services and Completing Confederation (intergovernmental relations). The 4 themes have been developed through the Centre for First Nations Governance‘s work with First Nations over 20 years and refined in discussion with project partners over the last several years.

To show how the project research is organized

Organization of the RFNG research project

The themes will be addressed in 4 regions of the country, defined by the progress of colonialism from east to west: Atlantic Peace and Friendship Treaties, Ontario-Quebec numbered and pre-confederation treaties, Prairie treaties, and West Coast Aboriginal Title lands. Each regional cluster is made up of participating First Nation communities and Nations, university researchers and practitioners who work together to develop, explore, research and document the journey to self-determination.  The pace and focus of development and research are community-led. As it is generated, knowledge and learning are shared across the four clusters to identify cross-cutting issues and common experience.  Each cluster is supported by a regional advisory council that includes representation of Elders, women and youth.  Select members of these councils are invited to be part of the Advisory Council that guides the overall project.

RFNG aims to support decolonization as we strive for social change. We do this by using a variety of research techniques appropriate to the subject matter, but all are governed by Indigenous research principles.  These include respecting Indigenous epistemologies and ways of knowing (i.e., oral histories, dreams, visions, ceremonies); understanding and incorporating the relational world views of Indigenous peoples; respecting the Indigenous holistic paradigm and understanding the data from this perspective; practicing reciprocity (giving back to First Nations by ensuring our research is useful to them and contributes to their self-determination); and respecting cultural protocols. In addition to adhering to the Tri-Council requirements for ethical research on human subjects, we have also adopted the principles of OCAP® (Ownership, Control, Access and Permission) in our research practices.