Donate Now Menu

Indspire Research Knowledge Nest

Indspire > Programmes > Research and Impact > Indspire Research Knowledge Nest

Indspire Research Knowledge Nest

Fostering growth. Inciting change. Shaping the future.


The Indspire Research Knowledge Nest is the first Indigenous research program of its kind in Canada.  With data analysis skills rapidly becoming critical to economic success, the Research Nest is poised to seize this exciting opportunity to foster Indigenous engagement and leadership in quantitative research and data science roles. The program will be guided by an Advisory Committee of researchers, leaders, and key stakeholders who will provide direction and input on the development of this important initiative.

Why is research important to Indigenous peoples in Canada?

There is currently no national repository that consistently tracks post-secondary and labour market data for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in Canada. This data gap limits policy makers, industry, organizations, and community’s capacity to make informed decisions in the area of education for Indigenous peoples. Indspire’s Research Knowledge Nest aims to fill this gap through Indigenous-led research to provide evidence for decision making and identify how education supports affect labour market outcomes, the socio-economic wellbeing of Indigenous peoples, and community prosperity.

Sponsorship Opportunities

If you’re interested in exploring partnership opportunities with us, please reach out to Cindy Ball, Vice President of Development, at cball@indspire.ca. Click here to learn more about our initial partners.


Research Nest Initiatives

Research Nest Focus Areas

Indspire’s Research Knowledge Nest develops research on the following topics:

  • Barriers for Indigenous peoples to post-secondary education and graduation
  • Links between economic development, labour market participation and education
  • Implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in post-secondary institutions and how this implementation affects Indigenous students
  • The impact of Indspire’s programs, using data collection tools such as Indspire’s National Education Survey
  • Best practices for compiling current data holdings and developing future data collection processes

New research topics will be developed based on Indigenous-led research directions from Indspire Research Knowledge Nest Advisory Committee, the Research Nest’s Research Assistants, and Indspire’s Board of Directors.

Research Assistant Program

The Research Assistant program provides a supportive learning environment for up-and-coming Indigenous researchers to receive hands-on work experience in quantitative research and data analysis roles.


The work of Indspire’s Research Knowledge Nest will provide decision-makers with key insights into the educational attainment of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada, fostering a new understanding of how education supports the overall wellbeing of Indigenous peoples.

Check out the reports by the Indspire Research Knowledge Nest below:

  • *NEW* – Journeys to Success: Empowering Indigenous Visions of Success Through Photovoice (2022) English
    • At Indspire, we believe that Indigenous communities have the right to define their own vision of success. This photovoice project intends to encourage, present, and highlight Indigenous perceptions of success through photographs and narratives. The goal is to raise awareness and dialogue to better support Indigenous communities’ image of success. The purpose is to represent and empower Indigenous visions and voices to strengthen the wider community’s understanding of Indigenous worldviews. To further support Indspire’s interest in supporting Indigenous students’ unique journey to success, the research question ‘What is success within an Indigenous lens?’ was developed for our project.

  • Navigating Two Worlds: Paths to Indigenous Career Success (2021) English
    • Each year, Indspire supports thousands of Indigenous students with reaching their educational goals. A strong relationship exists between educational attainment and career success. Therefore, understanding education as an integral part of career transition allows for the creation of appropriate supports. With these supports, more students can be well prepared to successfully transition into their careers of choice. Through inspiring Indigenous education and achievement, Indspire can positively influence these students’ socioeconomic outcomes.
  • Holding Our Ground: Indigenous Student Post-Secondary Persistence & Early Leaving (2021) English
    • Despite high aspirations of attainment, Indigenous students are more likely to leave post-secondary education prematurely than their non-Indigenous peers in Canada and around the world. Higher education is becoming increasingly critical for obtaining employment and economic security, as employees often require some form of certification, credential, or license to be hired. Part of Indspire’s commitment to students is to help guide them through school and into their careers. Thus, the need to discover why this disparity exists is pressing. 

  • So We Can All Thrive: The Importance of Indigenous Organizations’ Support for Indigenous Post-Secondary Students (2021) English
    • In previous Indspire surveys, Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships, and Awards program (BBF) recipients have frequently mentioned that receiving funding from Indspire—an Indigenous national charity aimed at specifically supporting Indigenous students—is different, more meaningful, than receiving funding from other organizations. We wanted to explore these feelings further, to understand what sets Indspire apart from non-Indigenous organizations from the perspective of Indigenous students.
  • Literature Review: Decolonizing and Indigenizing Mentorship (2021) English
    • The purpose of this literature review is to synthesize information on the topic of decolonizing and Indigenizing mentorship to understand: (1) Perceptions of mentorship within Indigenous communities; (2) Indigenous ways of relationship building; (3) Culturally-informed mentorship; (4) Best practices for good quality mentoring relationships; (5) Traditional structures of mentorship and why they are important.
  • Following the Path (2021) English
    • In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released 94 Calls to Action to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.” At the five-year anniversary of the release, Indspire wanted to gain insight into the progress of the education-related Calls to Action by learning about the experiences of Indigenous postsecondary students. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the delivery of post-secondary education, which presented a unique opportunity to investigate Indigenous student experiences and reconciliation initiatives during a pandemic.
  • Indigenous Post-Secondary Learners and the COVID-19 Pandemic (2021) English
    • The COVID-19 pandemic hit post-secondary learners hard in the Spring of 2020. In the final weeks of their term, faculty members were suddenly required to pivot to online learning. Students who relied on on-campus supports and IT facilities were scrambling as services were shut down. In the Fall of 2020, Indspire continued to hear from Indigenous learners that the pandemic was affecting them in unique and acute ways. Facing extra costs, delays in administrative processes, and shifts in access to supports, Indigenous post-secondary learners were navigating a new system in an already complex experience of pursuing post-secondary education. 

  • Financing Post-Secondary Education (2021) English
    • Financial challenges are a significant barrier for Indigenous peoples in Canada pursuing post-secondary education (PSE) (Ottmann, 2017). In order to better support Indigenous students in completing their educational goals, it is vital to understand the wide variety of financial situations Indigenous students experience. A key component of this is learning how Indigenous students are alleviating their educational costs. This report provides insight into how Indigenous students are financing PSE costs by comparing educational financing information obtained from Indigenous students to a sample from non-Indigenous students. 

  • Reciprocity in Terms of Post-Graduate Employment for Building Brighter Futures (BBF) Applicants (2020) English
    • In early 2020, Indspire deployed the National Education Survey (NES) to over 14,000 past Building Brighter Futures (BBF) recipients, over 5,700 of whom responded. An analysis of the NES data was performed to assess the tendency for Indigenous graduates to gravitate toward employment within the not-for-profit sector, within an Indigenous community, or within both areas, called reciprocal motivation in this report. The areas of employment for those who were engaged in reciprocal work were also examined. Indigenous students’ employment in the non-profit sector demonstrates a motivation toward reciprocity in terms of the employment they sought following graduation.
  • Program Related Work Experience and Academic Success for Indigenous Post-Secondary Learners (2020) English
    • With the results from the National Education Survey (NES) Indspire was able to investigate some of the outcomes that Indigenous students experienced after participating in PRWE. The objectives of this study were to examine three components relating to those outcomes. 1. Is there a relationship between students who participated in PRWE and their employment outcomes? 2. Does PRWE impact whether students feel satisfied with their current employment opportunity? 3. Is there a relationship between students who participated in PRWE and annual income?
  • Supporting Indigenous Caregivers Through Their Post-Secondary Experience (2020) English
    • Indspire aims to see that “within a generation, every Indigenous student will graduate”, and since nearly one third of all Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships, and Awards (BBF) applicants and recipients are caregivers responsible for at least two dependents (children, Elders, partners, etc.), it is critical for Indspire to understand our students who have dependents and their needs to ensure that we are effectively supporting them to succeed in their chosen fields. Indspire has a role to play in ensuring that all Indigenous students can have equitable support in achieving their post-secondary goals. To this end, this report will identify the needs of BBF applicants and recipients who are caregivers (who will be referred to as caregivers throughout the remainder of this report), which of their needs we are meeting, and ways we could better assist caregivers throughout their post-secondary journey.
  • Building Brighter Futures: Multiple Award Recipients (2020) English
    • This report will present various tables exploring factors relating to multiple BBF award recipients. To begin, summary numbers, such as how many awards BBF applicants have received, and award amounts are presented. Then, by taking advantage of the ability to track variables for a student over time, the changes in some of these variables over the course of a BBF student’s education were investigated. These variables include GPA, and financial figures, such as financial need and student loan amounts. Finally, a summary of the total awards and amounts was calculated for recipients who have graduated from their programs.

  • Insights into Indigenous Post-Secondary Graduates’ Experiences in the Canadian Workforce (2020) English
    • Using data from Indspire’s 2020 National Education Survey (NES) of Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships, and Awards (BBF) recipients, as well as Statistics Canada’s Census of Population (2016), CCAB and Indspire explore how Indigenous post-secondary experiences are associated with entrepreneurship, working for Indigenous employers, and overall labour market outcomes.
  • Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards Recipients’ Outcomes Report (2020) English
    • This report examines BBF recipients’ educational and labour market successes, as well as provides insight into Indigenous post-secondary students’ challenges and needs.


Are you interested in a Research Assistant position? Or are you an established First Nations, Inuit, or Métis research professional who’d like to be a mentor? Maybe you’re a decision-maker or potential partner who’d like to know more about how the Research Nest’s work could benefit you?

We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to us at research@indspire.ca or give us a call at 1.855.463.7747.