Respectful Engagement

Respectful engagement with diverse stakeholders and rights holders is multi-dimensional and includes a need to:

  • Understand the meaning of ‘duty to consult’
  • Consider inherent biases
  • Reflect on the importance of identity and positionality

Inherent Bias

Inherent bias are assumptions that skew viewpoints of a subject. Inherent biases are often unconscious and operate outside of our awareness, affect our behavior, and they can be in direct contradiction our espoused beliefs and values. Bias emerges from and is related to our own identity and positionality and how we engage with the world; it is important to consider identity and positionality when engaging with rights holders and stakeholders as it influences who benefits and why?

Examples of bias may include:

  • Bias in clinical assessments, compromising health goals of patients (e.g., different pain levels along perceived genders
  • Bias in who is overseeing development projects and its purpose
    • Bias from economic incentives a person/group may receive for completing a project

Identity & Positionality

Identity refers to how people perceive themselves as and the behaviours, values, norms and subsequent actions people take in a given decision-making context.

Positionality refers to how people perceive their identity (values, behaviours, norms and actions) in relation to other people in a broader societal context.


Identity and positionality, and the extent to which there are equal opportunities for different voices (e.g., ethnicity, gender, class) is particularly crucial for groups which have historically been excluded from these processes (i.e., Indigenous peoples). Acknowledging the positionality of relevant actors (e.g., Indigenous knowledge holders, industry representatives, government representatives) in relation to one another can support better engagement and create opportunities for otherwise underrepresented voices.



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Building Sustainable Communities: The Impact of Engagement Copyright © 2022 by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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