The Indigenous Evaluation Network will enable new, emerging, and experienced Indigenous evaluators and Indigenous program service providers to connect, network, build capacity, engage in mentorship, and expand the field of Indigenous evaluation by providing a central resource and hosting networking opportunities for the benefit of Indigenous communities.
In the context of the Western evaluation system in North America, the current environment for Indigenous evaluators, Indigenous programs, and allies of Indigenous Peoples is a mix-matched, confusing landscape to navigate. While there are several Indigenous-focused opportunities and groups within the Canadian Evaluation Society, the American Evaluation Association and smaller localized social media groups with global reach bring forth a range of tools and resources, there is no singular framework or network that guides Indigenous evaluation. In the Canadian context, in particular, it would be of benefit to form a coordinating body to establish capacity across Canada. For many years, funding bodies have required Indigenous communities to complete evaluation reporting templates foreign to their communities’ realities.
Many shortcomings within this system have contributed to inequity in the quality of research and evaluation efforts, failing to meet the unique cultural, language, health and social needs of Indigenous Peoples within Canada. Over the past three decades, Johnston Research Inc. has heard community concerns about data validity, and how the conceptualization of inputs, outputs, and outcomes are in and of themselves a foreign concept, developed external to the Indigenous communities. Changes and transformations within the Western evaluation system are much needed, and the creation of an Indigenous Evaluators Network aims to respond to this, by supporting Indigenous Evaluation and Indigenous evaluator success from coast to coast to coast.
Three Indigenous Evaluators Gatherings held between March 2021 and January 2022 conceptualized the Network. These meetings were also the first standalone gatherings of Indigenous evaluators and program providers across Turtle Island. At the first meeting, the 80+ attendees identified a need for a coordinating body.
A fourth meeting was held with a Think Tank, which supported the planning for the first Indigenous Evaluators Gathering. Given the position of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and its continued implementation over the past four years, and the endorsement of these gatherings and think tanks, a larger voice must be formulated to support communities in mastering the skillsets of evaluation to benefit their community membership.
By showcasing the importance and value of First Nations, Inuit and Métis evaluators, the Indigenous Evaluation Network seeks to draw attention to the critical role of Indigenous evaluators in Indigenous evaluation and innovation.
The Indigenous Evaluation Network will invest new resources into Indigenous evaluation, supporting innovation to increase Indigenous-led program sustainability and community success. The network will enable emerging and experienced Indigenous evaluators and Indigenous program service providers to connect, network, build capacity, and engage in mentorship across Canada. The Indigenous Evaluation Network seeks to amplify the importance of, and voices of First Nations, Inuit and Métis evaluators and the value they bring to their programs, research and Indigenous communities.