a serene forest with dappled sunlight.

Relational leadership framework

During this stage we developed an inquiry focused on two aspects:  The selection of a Relational Leadership and governance model for the NCPR able to sustain and manage the Intercultural collaboration framework we envision; and the design of a Research and Ethics methodological framework that can support Indigenous methodologies inclusion in the NCPR research. 

The methodological framework used for this inquiry was Participatory Action Research (Vaughn & Jacquez, 2020). Participants who engaged in this stage came from various cultural backgrounds and contributed their unique insights and experiences, from a personal standpoint informed by their cultures, adding depth to the discussions and understanding of the issues at hand. We provided a safe environment in our virtual Zoom meetings by generating the discussion from an Appreciative Inquiry approach (Whitney et al., 2019).  Appreciative inquiry nurtured meaningful discussions, collaboration, and sharing of ideas without fear of judgment or marginalization. This environment was thoughtfully designed to respect and honor various cultural perspectives, ensuring that each participant's values, beliefs, and identities were acknowledged and embraced. We prioritized open communication, active listening, and empathy, fostering an atmosphere of trust and understanding. This allowed genuine interactions, where everyone's contributions were valued, and differences celebrated (Curtis et al., 2019).

Relational Leadership framework work group

The relational leadership framework that the NCPR adopts for intercultural research was developed through focus-groups where participants shared their recommendations. During 6 meetings, we focused the discussion on the qualities that the NCPR leadership model must have in order to sustain multiple cultural paradigms in collaborative research. Also, the meetings were focused on identifying areas of participation and stewardship for intercultural relations, decision making principles, stakeholders engagement, leadership roles and other processes required to sustain a framework in the academic environment.

The sessions

During our first Zoom Meeting - Discussion on Power Abuse and Ethical Practices in Therapeutic Spaces, we centered the conversation around psychedelic healing practices and the exchange of cultural knowledge for practicing that kind of healing. Various individuals from diverse backgrounds including medicine women, elders, researchers, and clinical counsellors were involved. We explored topics such as traditional medicine, cultural wounds, power dynamics, and consent. Key themes discussed include:

  • Relational Leadership: The concept of leading from a place of self-awareness, understanding power dynamics, and continuous self-work
  • Power Abuse and Transgressions: Exploration of power dynamics and the need for comprehensive approaches to addressing issues
  • Ethics and Facilitation: Emphasis on the ethical responsibilities of facilitators, self-awareness, and not seeing oneself as a 'healer'
  • The Role of Being: Highlighting the significance of 'being' as a foundation for effective 'doing.' Being gendered, patriarchy and colonialism

Figure 1

Board notes from ‘Discussion on Power Abuse and Ethical Practices in Therapeutic Spaces’.

Note: Board notes from ‘Discussion on Power Abuse and Ethical Practices in Therapeutic Spaces’.

Recommendations from the group

  1. Further Discussion: There was a shared understanding that this topic needs further exploration and discussion. This could potentially lead to the formulation of guidelines or best practices for facilitators in therapeutic and ceremonial spaces

  2. Education and Training: A need for more education and training for facilitators in understanding power dynamics, ethics, and their own internal processes was identified

  3. Regenerative Justice: The concept of regenerative justice was brought up as a potential approach to address power abuses and transgressions

The second meeting focused on implementing digital tools for research and partnership development. Members of the NCPR and the VIU gathered to discuss 

the digital ecosystem design for the NCPR to enhance efficiency, communication, and international collaboration. Key topics discussed include:

Objectives of implementing digital transformation to research

  • Improved research data accuracy and accessibility
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration among research teams and partners internationally
  • Real-time tracking and management of ongoing research projects
  • Streamlined administrative tasks for more efficient center management
  • Time and money savings

We categorized the software and AI into three main areas

  • Research: Data collection, management, analysis, and visualization
  • Partnership development: Client Resource Management (CRM) systems, communication platforms, and cloud-based collaboration spaces
  • Research center management tools: Project management software, resource allocation platforms, and reporting tools

Recommendations for digital transformation

  • Conduct a thorough needs assessment to identify specific requirements for each category
  • Research and select appropriate tools that align with the organization's goals and processes
  • Plan for training sessions to ensure smooth adoption and usage of the new tools
  • Develop a timeline and allocate resources for the implementation process

During our Third Meeting the discussion addressed the development of a relational leadership model for psychedelic research. We focused the conversation in the concept of Relational Leadership from their personal perspective and also in the concepts of Ancestral Leadership and the 3 baskets of knowledge,  based in the article ‘He Apiti Hono, He Tātai Hono’: Ancestral  Leadership,  Cyclical Learning and the Eternal Continuity of Leadership (Kelly et al., 2014). The participants, from diverse cultural backgrounds, provided their recommendations.  Key insights to consider in the NCPR framework include:

About Relational Leadership (RL)

RL systems: are focused on sense-making rooted in relationships and cultural sensitivity. 

Building trust: Relational leaders prioritize building trust with their team members. They demonstrate integrity, transparency, and consistency in their actions and decisions, which helps create a sense of security and psychological safety among their followers.

Active listening: Relational leaders actively listen to their team members, seeking to understand their perspectives, needs, and concerns. They encourage open and honest communication and make an effort to empathize with others' experiences.

Collaboration and empowerment: Relational leaders encourage collaboration and empower their team members to contribute their ideas and talents. They create an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone's contributions are valued and respected.

Emotional intelligence: Relational leaders possess strong emotional intelligence, allowing them to understand and manage their own emotions and effectively navigate the emotions of others. They are empathetic and skilled at recognizing and responding to the emotional needs of their team members and self-regulating.

Coaching and mentoring: Relational leaders adopt a coaching and mentoring approach to leadership. They provide guidance, support, and opportunities for growth and development to their team members, fostering their professional and personal success.

Building networks: Relational leaders recognize the importance of networking and building relationships beyond their immediate team. They actively engage with stakeholders, other leaders, and industry professionals to create partnerships, gain support, and leverage collective expertise.

About Ancestral Leadership (RL)

Connection to Ancestors: Indigenous communities view their ancestors as a source of wisdom and guidance. Ancestral leaders recognize the interconnectedness between past, present, and future generations, acknowledging the profound impact of their ancestors' experiences and teachings on their leadership roles and the impact that their actions will have in future generations.

Cultural Continuity: Ancestral leadership prioritize the preservation and continuation of their community's cultural practices, values, and traditions. Leaders serve as custodians of cultural knowledge and play a vital role in transmitting ancestral wisdom to younger generations, ensuring the survival and resilience of their cultural heritage (inlcuding language).

Holistic Approach: Ancestral leadership embraces a holistic approach that considers the well-being of the entire community and its relationship with the natural world. Leaders strive to maintain harmony and balance, promoting sustainable practices and respecting the interconnectedness of all living beings.

Collective Decision-making: Ancestral leaders recognize the importance of inclusivity and collective decision-making within their communities and through intercultural collaboration spaces. They value the input and perspectives of all members, seeking consensus and unity in decision-making processes.

Spirituality and Ceremony: Ancestral leadership often incorporates spirituality and ceremonial practices. Leaders engage in rituals and ceremonies to connect with their ancestors, seek guidance, and strengthen their spiritual connection to the land and community.

Stewardship: Ancestral leaders embrace their role as stewards of the land, protecting and caring for their traditional territories. They understand the interconnected relationship between the land, resources, and the well-being of their community, practicing sustainable resource management and promoting environmental conservation.

The Three Baskets of Knowledge: this conceptual tool that helps to categorize knowledge that belongs to spirituality, to the natural world, and to cultural practices. It helps to provide order to the body of knowledge based on the importance of preserving and transmitting this knowledge and ways of being for the well-being and the sustainability of everyone on Mother Earth.


When developing the leadership framework for the NCPR, consider the following key aspects:

1. Sense-Making and Cultural Sensitivity:

  • Prioritize sense-making through relationships and cultural awareness
  • Demonstrate integrity, transparency, and consistency in relations to knowledge, culture, and self
  • Establish structures that actively listen to team members, communities, and the Three Baskets of Knowledge
  • Incorporate Peacemaking frameworks to encourage open and empathetic communication

2. Collaboration and Empowerment

  • Foster collaboration and empower individuals from diverse backgrounds to contribute
  • Value and integrate diversity in contributions
  • Promote professional and personal growth for team members
  • Develop emotional intelligence to understand and navigate emotions within the team

3. Ancestral Leadership Integration

  • Integrate Indigenous research methods and frameworks that connect with ancestors and spirits for guidance
  • Guard the preservation of cultural practices, values, and traditions
  • Embrace a holistic approach considering community well-being and nature
  • Prioritize environmental and cultural conservation as part of stewardship values

4. Participatory Decision-Making

  • Prioritize collective decision-making and inclusivity within communities, collectives, organizations, or individuals
  • Utilize frameworks such as the "Three Baskets of Knowledge" to categorize and transmit knowledge
  • Embrace intercultural collaboration and networking to build relationships

5. Indigenous Leadership Practices and Embodied Knowledge

  • Build trust through transparent communication and consistent actions
  • Provide training in active listening for enhanced empathy
  • Create collaborative and shared decision-making opportunities
  • Develop emotional intelligence training for better emotional navigation
  • Implement coaching and mentoring programs for professional and cultural development
  • Integrate spiritual and ceremonial practices into the research to connect with heritage and values

Implementation Strategies

  • Collaborate with Indigenous elders and leaders to integrate ancestral wisdom
  • Design leadership training programs incorporating RL and Ancestral Leadership principles
  • Establish feedback mechanisms for continuous improvement
  • Share success stories and lessons learned
  • Develop cultural competency training for understanding Indigenous perspectives
  • Partner with Indigenous communities for mutual learning
  • Incorporate the "Three Baskets of Knowledge" concept, the three areas
  • Regularly evaluate and adapt the model for cultural and organizational alignment


During the Fourth Meeting a leadership model draft, based on previous recommendations and literature review, was presented. The group shared their comments and recommendations. 

Figure 2

NCPR leadership model draft A

 An Indigenous Model of Leadeship and Community Development in Australia

Note: This leadership model was drafted based on Laura Brearley’s  (2015) work: Deep Listening and Leadership: An Indigenous Model of Leadeship and Community Development in Australia (pp. 93). We also included important concepts defined in ‘He Apiti Hono, He Tātai Hono’: Ancestral  Leadership,  Cyclical Learning and the Eternal Continuity of Leadership (Kelly et al., 2014), and in Decolonising research in a Sub-Saharan African context: exploring Ubuntu as a foundation for research methodology, ethics and agenda (Seehawer, 2018).

Leadership model

The leadership model is quite intricate and is based on Indigenous scholars from diverse cultural backgrounds chosen considering the participants recommendations. The following paragraphs describe the key aspects of the draft model.

At the core, it considers the ‘Three Baskets Model' and is framed in the concept of ancestral leadership as studied by Kelly et al. (2014). Ancestral leadership is understood as leadership wherein all the gifts, skills, competencies, models, organizational processes come from ancestral ways (lineage) and are passed onto the next generations.  From this resource we also learned about the importance of considering spiritual, natural and cultural knowledge at the center of the model, beside the scientific knowledge already in place. Psychedelic Assisted Therapy (PAT) and Psychedelic Research (PR) requires access to spiritual, natural and cultural knowledge in order to be holistic and inclusive to Indigenous ways of knowing. 

The leadership model drafted is inspired by the work of indigenous scholars from Australia (Brearley, 2015). These scholars designed the model, guided by Indigenous teachings, for safely conducting Indigenous-led research within western academic environments.  Laura Brearley refers to it as the "Deep Listening and Leadership model” (p. 92). Deep Listening (Dadirri) “ is a concept that has much to teach us about effective community leadership. It is a process of becoming present to ourselves, to each other, and to the environment” (p. 94). The principles at the core of Deep Listening in community research are: respect for each other and the land, investing time in relations and building trust, openness to other ways of knowing, creativity in learning, caring for each other. 

Figure 3

The Deep Listening and Leadership Model


Seven dimensions of leadership

Note: Seven dimensions of leadership (p. 92). 

Leadership Roles

 The NCPR model draft proposes to follow the Deep Listening Leadership principles, to always be aware of the 7 dimensions of Deep Listening, and also proposes to create leadership roles based in these dimensions. These roles will serve as guardians of the ‘Third Space for intercultural collaboration’ that the NCPR aims to offer while conducting Psychedelic research, specially when working with Indigenous individuals or communities. 

Besides, the NCPR model takes into account the cultural aspects and the importance of integrating ancestral wisdom and spirituality (Kelly et al., 2014) very seriously. It seeks to create a third space that's comprehensive, holistic, and grounded in spirit. For this, the draft model sums to the  dimensions of Deep Listening one more: Leaders as Seers, Deep listening to Spirit. To the spirit of the ancestors, the plants, the mushrooms, the animals, the Earth and all of those ‘spirits’ that appear through visions and take part in the psychedelic experience. The NCPR leadership model must consider these aspects that are intrinsic to Indigenous epistemologies, and to psychedelic experiences.

Other research teams around the world who are working in decolonizing knowledge and research have included ‘spirit’ as a voice in their research. For example, a research team working from an African Indigenous philosophy that emphasizes common humanity and interconnectedness called Ubuntu, explains that Ubuntu research “may involve those that are not anymore or not yet among the living members of the community”  (Seehawer, 2018, p. 460).  “Humans may include the spirits of those who have passed on. The past, the present and the future are connected through ancestorhood” (p. 456).

Leadership transitions

Leadership transitions will follow the principles of Ancestral Leadership and will be passed through ‘memory keepers’. Current leaders will have the responsibility to keep the memory of the leadership principles and models at the NCPR and will pass such memory to the following generations in a proper manner, ensuring the continuation of the ancestral leader's work in detail.

NCPR leadership competencies

In order to be able to hold the ‘Third space for intercultural collaboration’ at the NCPR, the leadership team will learn and develop some relational competencies such as: deep listening, ancestral wisdom, relational accountability, presencing, mindfulness, flexibility, and more to be studied in the future.

Recommendations from participants 

Ethical observance

  •  It was mentioned that the use of these models is in ethical accordance with the respective cultures they originate from. Even when the models we are learning from are in the public domain, there are plans to connect with the authors who have shared these models with the world and potentially invite them to take part in the NCPR wisdom counsil or at least acknowledge their contribution.

Addressing Reciprocity

  • We discussed the need for a reciprocity program, acknowledging that people's time and investment need to be recognized and honored. We talked about offering honorariums for community members providing consultation services, and the potential for certain roles to be fulfilled by interns or volunteers who are trained in the center's approach and methods.

Funding and Services

  • The participants touched on the financial aspect of running the center, considering the feasibility of different funding models, such as grants or charging for services. They also addressed the need for the center to clarify what services it would offer, to whom, whether it would be consultation, mentorship, or training programs. How it will engage with different stakeholders, and how it will ensure continuous leadership and reciprocity are fundamental relational factors that need to be included in the model.

Considerations for Moving Forward

  • We need a council formed by Indigenous Elders and Knowledge keepers who help the NCPR leadership team to keep in track with the principles, values and protocols of local and other nations
  • There is also a need to consider how the center will align with the interests of its affiliations, such as the Vancouver Island University (VIU), and how it will support and collaborate with other researchers
  • Explore the potential for creating a consultation service where the NCPR can facilitate this framework to other psychedelic research teams
  • Determine how the center will ensure continuity and reciprocity in its operations
  • It is clear that the 8 Deep Listening roles are adequate to hold the Third space for intercultural collaboration in Psychedelic Research. However,  we observe that these roles can be dynamic and are directly related with the research leadership itself. On the other side, the NCPR will need to self-regulate and coordinate, and for these 3 new roles are proposed: Memory Holder, Reciprocity Keeper, and Collaboration Enabler
  • Consider the feasibility of different funding models for the center and discuss-feel what are the services that the NCPR will provide? To whom? and How?

During this meeting we presented a second version of the NCPR leadership model draft, provided a deeper exploration of the leadership model, its roles and possible activities and discussed the Reciprocity Program for the NCPR researchers and collaborators.

Figure 4

NCPR Leadership Model, second draft

Wisdom Council in Relation with Local Original Peoples, the Listers Community

This draft differentiates from the previous one In various aspects. Firstly,  we differentiated the NCPR leadership operations into 2 categories: NCPR internal operations, and NCPR collaboration in research. And secondly we named a Listeners Community who will guard and sustain the ‘Third space for intercultural collaboration’ at the NCPR.  

The NCPR operations circle - inner circle, will be in charge of running the center activities, institutional relations, funding, reciprocity programs and other practicalities. The roles that will operate the NCPR inner circle are inspired in the concept of ‘guardianship’ will be formed by a memory holder who will be in charge of keeping documents, frameworks, methodologies, etc. in place, accessible, and available to pass on to future generations of leaders. The Inner Circle will be surrounded by a wisdom council that will be formed, or informed, by Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the local First Nation, that in the case of the NCPR is the Snuneymuxw First Nation. 

On the other circle, we situated what we called the Listeners Community.  This circle is formed by 8 leadership roles, 7 of them inspired by the Deep Listening Leadership Model and one more that considers the invisible world.  The 8 roles will be in charge of maintaining the Third Space for Intercultural Collaboration in every research endeavor that the NCPR collaborates in. 

In the circle inside the Listeners Community we placed the ‘Third space for intercultural collaboration (Third Space)’ where the knowledge ceremony will take place (Wilson, 2008). At the core of the Third Space the three baskets of knowledge - natural, spiritual and cultural - are placed because they cover important aspects that need to be always in focus.  We also paralleled them with the words medicine, spirit, and ancestors because these topics belong to each one of the baskets and are fundamental for Psychedelic Research. The Listeners Community's main objective is to witness and observe that all the aspects of Indigenous Cultural Safety are in place for Indigenous knowledge to flow, grow and expand during all stages of the research at the center of the ‘Third Space’.


For the NCPR Inner Leadership circle

  • Add one more role called: Integration guardian. This role will be in charge of maintaining the values of transparency and integrity at the NCPR inner leadership circle
  • Also, consider that the Inner circle, through the collaborations enabler role, can take part in more than one research, either if it is an internal or external project
  • Develop a list of questions regarding the practical issues of running the research center, including funding and legal agreements
  • Find the people who will take the roles, and form the wisdom council
  • Investigate the potential for funding and support for the research center, considering various options including grants, sponsorships, and partnerships

For the NCPR Listeners Community circle

  • Consider the development of a training or apprenticeship program to create and cultivate the roles identified in the leadership model
  • These roles will be fundamental to the NCPR collaboration in research and to provide the service of holding ‘Third Spaces for Intercultural collaboration’ for other research teams willing to collaborate with Indigenous individuals or communities

The final meeting marked closure of the process and next steps. The final draft for the NCPR leadership model was presented. It included all the recommendations observed in previous meetings and includes one more role for the NCPR Inner Circle operations. This draft also highlights the flexibility and connectivity of the two circles model for collaborating in multiple research projects through the Collaborations Enabler role and the Listeners Community.  

Relational Leadership Framework

Figure 5

Final draft for the NCPR Leadership Framework

NCPR Leadership Framework


Wisdom Council: Formed in relation with local Original Peoples. The council will be formed by Elders and knowledge keepers from the host nation and other nations who collaborate closely with the NCPR and by one member of each Institution supporting the NCPR (VIU and RTT). The council, through meetings, will be in charge of the direction, vision and mission of the NCPR. Will provide advice when creating plans or solving challenges. The council will also observe the ethical behavior of the organization in their relation with other stakeholders, Indigenous communities and with the land.  Some members of the council will also provide advice on Indigenous methodologies and frameworks that can be used in the NCPR.

Figure 6

Roles, competencies and principles

Relational Leadership roles and competencies

Inner Circle will be formed by

  • Memory Holder: This role is the one in charge of the designing systems, developing processes and maintaining them accessible and available to pass on to future generations of leaders
  • Collaboration enabler: This role will be in charge of leading the research collaborations that the NCPR will carry out. This position will be the bridge to the Listeners Community, enabling all the aspects required to open ‘Third Spaces for Intercultural collaboration’
  • Reciprocity Steward: this role will be in charge of the design, development and management of the reciprocity program for collaborations at the NCPR
  • Integrity Keeper: Ensures that the core values and principles of the project are upheld in all activities and decisions, maintaining transparency and honesty in the project's operations

Listeners community

All of these roles are ‘Third Space’ holders, each one is in charge of a specific aspect. These individuals could be interns, volunteers, or individuals interested in understanding the NCPR intercultural collaboration methodologies and participating in Psychedelic Research and interested in the NCPR reciprocity program. 

  • Learner: an individual who actively participates in the research and inquiry process doing it from a humility, learning standpoint
  • Seer: Oversees the project's spiritual and ancestral aspects. Collaborates with the community spiritual leaders who authentically represent their culture
  • Includer: Will actively seek to provide a safe and inclusive environment that includes and involves others, ensuring that everyone feels valued, respected, and a part of the group or activity
  • Cultural Steward: committed to preserving, maintaining, and promoting the ceremonies of the culture at the center of the research. This role often involves safeguarding cultural traditions, practices, knowledge, and values
  • Storyteller: listening to what happens during the research process and as a result of it, the storyteller will record, translate and share the knowledge ceremony stories and the research findings
  • Custodian: Oversees that all the policies, contracts, agreements, and protocols required by the host nation and host research group are followed
  • Messenger: listens and communicates, opens communication channels, promotes non-violent communication, in general, oversees that the communication is balanced and flows smoothly

Reciprocity Program

The concept of reciprocity is tied closely to the project's leadership model, with an emphasis on shared responsibilities and mutual support. The program builds around mutual exchange, collaboration, and shared benefit. This can involve every member of the team contributing their skills, knowledge, or resources, and in return, receiving something of equal value. This could be knowledge, experience, credit, or other tangible or intangible benefits. 

The group acknowledges the need to respect and honor each participant's time, investment, and energy. This respect for reciprocity extends to not only financial compensation but also acknowledging the challenges that the participants might be facing in their personal and professional lives. The aim would be to create a balance, where no one's contribution is taken for granted and everyone's work is recognized and rewarded in some way.

The program is currently in its early stages, with team members volunteering their time and expertise. As funding and interest in the project grow, the team expects to provide more structured support to participants. The reciprocity program is seen as a necessary element to ensure fairness, especially when larger amounts of money or resources are involved. The team is considering different ways to implement this, such as through assigned roles or through mutual agreements with external research teams. 


Wisdom Council

  • Nominate a Wisdom Council.
  •  Establish regular meetings for the Wisdom Council to ensure ongoing direction, vision, and advice for the project
  • Develop a clear communication plan to facilitate meaningful interactions between Wisdom Council members and the project team
  • The memory holder must document the insights and recommendations provided by the Wisdom Council to ensure transparency and continuity in decision-making

Inner Circle

  • Nominate who will cover the roles and contact them to explain
  • Define clear responsibilities and expectations for each role within the Inner Circle
  • Encourage cross-functional collaboration and open communication among Inner Circle members

Memory Holder

  • Refine and finalize the descriptions of each role, including their responsibilities, expectations, and potential benefits. Use literature to support proposals
  • Develop training programs to equip individuals in each role with the necessary skills, knowledge, and cultural understanding
  • Co-create, together with other members of inner circle an onboarding process for new participants in order to provide them with tools to understand what we do at the NCPR

Reciprocity Steward

  • Establish a comprehensive plan for the Reciprocity Program that outlines the types of contributions expected from team members and the benefits they will receive
  • Regularly review and update the Reciprocity Program to ensure its alignment with the evolving needs of the team and project
  • Explore opportunities to collaborate with external partners and research teams to expand the scope of the Reciprocity Program
  • Explore opportunities to secure funding for the project to support the expansion and sustainability of the roles and the Reciprocity Program

Collaborations enabler

  • Collaborate with Indigenous Elders on council to ensure accurate and respectful representation of cultural practices
  • Develop guidelines and protocols for safeguarding and sharing cultural knowledge in a way that respects cultural sensitivity
  • Document the cultural stewardship efforts and their impact on the project's cultural preservation goals
  • Create channels for open and transparent communication within the project team, Wisdom Council, and Listeners Community
  • Establish a process for addressing conflicts or misunderstandings in a constructive manner
  • Engage with the Listeners Community and external partners to foster collaboration, knowledge exchange, and meaningful participation

Listeners Community

  • Develop a structured onboarding process for individuals taking on roles within the Listeners Community
  • Create a training program to form listeners
  • Offer ongoing training and learning opportunities to enhance the skills and contributions of Listeners Community participants

Reciprocity Program

  • Clearly define the expectations and benefits of participating in the Reciprocity Program for all team members
  • Create specific programs to start working
  • Develop a system for tracking and acknowledging contributions made through the Reciprocity Program, whether they are tangible or intangible


The team focused on developing and implementing a unique leadership framework grounded on the principles of relationality, guardianship, and cultural safety. The framework intends to foster a learning environment where the leader's role shifts according to the demands of each project, thereby ensuring a more inclusive and dynamic leadership structure. The new model has been positively received due to its congruence with the Seed Group needs and its clear delineation of decision-making responsibilities. The leadership framework emphasizes the importance of patience, respect for cultural nuances, and matching the pace of the communities the team collaborates with. 

The project's discussions highlighted the importance of cultural sensitivity, ethical practices, and inclusive leadership in research collaborations. The Relational and Ancestral Leadership model aims to provide a framework that respects diverse knowledge systems, prioritizes relationships, and fosters collaboration. The identified roles and principles can guide researchers, facilitators, and organizations toward more respectful and harmonious intercultural collaborations in the academic environment.


Brearley, L., Calliou, B., Voyageur, C. (2015). Deep Listening and Leadership: An Indigenous Model of Leadership and Community Development in Australia. In Restorying indigenous leadership: wise practices in community development. Banff Centre Press. pp. 92-127.

Curtis, E., Jones, R., Tipene-Leach, D. et al. (2019). Why cultural safety rather than cultural competency is required to achieve health equity: a literature review and recommended definition. International Journal for Equity in Health 18 (174).

Kelly, D., Jackson, B., & Henare, M. (2014). ‘He Apiti Hono, He Tātai Hono’: Ancestral  Leadership,  Cyclical Learning and the Eternal Continuity of Leadership.  I. In G. Jack, R. Westwood, & F. R. Khan (Eds.), Core-Periphery Relations and  Organisation Studies. Palgrave Macmillan.

Seehawer, M. (2018). Decolonising research in a Sub-Saharan African Context: Exploring Ubuntu as a Foundation for Research Methodology, Ethics and Agenda. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 21(4).

Whitney, D., Trosten-Bloom, A., Vianello, M.G. (2019) Appreciative inquiry: Positive action research. In O. Zuber-Skerritt, & L. Wood (Eds.) Action Learning and Action Research: Genres and Approaches, Emerald Publishing. pp. 163-177. 

Wilson, S. (2001). What is an Indigenous Research Methodology? Panel  Presentation: Coming to an Understanding. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 25(2), 175–179.

Vaughn L. & Jacquez, F. (2020). Participatory Research Methods – Choice Points in the Research Process. Journal of Participatory Research Methods 1 (1).

Learn more about the Ethical Research Framework we created

Go to Ethical Research Framework


Organizations involved

British Columbia Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (BC NEIHR).  

Roots to Thrive

Vancouver Island University / Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Graduate Certificate

Royal Roads University - School of Leadership Studies

The University of British Columbia

Leadership PAR group and Knowledge Keepers

Elder Geraldine Manson, Elder Duncan Grady, Shannon Dames, Erin Ryding, Todd Haspect, Monika Bar, and P. I. Jimena Garcia (Chalchi).