Carleton University
This special edition on evaluation in Indigenous contexts had two purposes: to understand the differences between Indigenous and Western ontologies and epistemologies as these relate to research and evaluation; and to highlight the experiences and insights of researchers and evaluators who work routinely in or with Indigenous communities on research initiatives that incorporate evaluation. Creating a volume of this nature builds on the ideas of several in the fi eld who propose that context matters where effective and relevant Indigenous research and evaluation are concerned (Cram, Chilisa, & Mertens, 2016; Cram & Mertens, 2015). Equally important, however, is our view that there is a dearth of research and reflection on the actual practice of evaluation in these contexts. Although there is an acknowledgment that attitudes, behaviours, and methods must be different, there is little writing on the substance and implications of these diff erences on evaluation practices. In this regard, explorations about how evaluators, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are working in and with Indigenous communities was the main insight we were looking for from the papers.
The special edition was divided into two main parts: the first part, including the introduction, contains papers that explore the legal and aspirational obligations for evaluating in Indigenous contexts; the second part relates evaluator and researcher experiences working in Indigenous contexts on actual projects. The latter set of papers provides some initial reflections on experiences with an emphasis on the challenges encountered when attempting to bridge Indigenous and Western ways of knowing. They highlight methodological challenges and the practical realities of designing and implementing projects that are meaningful to Indigenous communities. We observe three common themes emerging from the seven papers that comprise this edition.