May 12, 2022Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University Associate Professor Ciann Wilson and her research team have been awarded $450,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)’s Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative Competition. This grant is the latest of four operational grants Wilson has received in support of her larger research program during the last year.
Wilson’s SSHRC funding will support work on community-created ethical research protocols in Indigenous and Black communities that reaffirm sovereignty and self-determination in the digital information age. Along with her research partner, LLana James, the AI, Medicine and Data Justice Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queen's University, Wilson aims to develop best practices from existing national and international protocols to inform better research, evaluation and data management practices and policies in Canada.
Wilson and James’s project highlights that we are witnessing the rapidly evolving social, legal and economic significance of data gathered from social media platforms, university institutions, the health and social services sector, and internet search engines, which capture, monetize and broker data through non-consent-based approaches .
“The concern is that this will have lasting implications for our lives and future generations,” says James.
As their project highlights, these data-gathering processes are transforming what data and research are, as well as redefining the limits of possession, ownership, access and control. This prevents the effective implementation of community-created protocols from Indigenous and Black peoples around the world that focus on self-determination, data sovereignty and equitable democratic participation.
Wilson and James’s research aligns with the goal of SSHRC’s Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative, which is to support community-based and community-led research partnerships that are grounded in the lived experience of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups, and analyze the causes and persistence of systemic racism and discrimination.
In addition to co-directing this project, Wilson and James co-lead the Research, Evaluation, Data Collection and Ethics for Black Lives Protocol (REDE4Black Lives Protocol). Among their collaborators are community organizations including the Native BioData Consortium, the Black Public Health Collective and Digital Public.
“We are a team of Black, Indigenous and allied scholars, activists, community leaders and lawyers, so in many ways, the project itself is all about cultivating opportunities for data sovereignty and justice by and for our communities,” says Wilson.