Our Values: The Four R’s

Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility

The “Four Rs” proposed by Verna J. Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt in their seminal 2001 work, provide a comprehensive guide for educators and institutions to engage with diverse learners in a meaningful and impactful manner.


The foundation of the Four R’s. It means recognizing the inherent value and dignity of all people, including Indigenous peoples and their knowledge. Respect also involves acknowledging and honouring the history and traditions of Indigenous peoples, including their unique ways of knowing, being, and doing. By demonstrating respect, non-Indigenous people can create a safe and welcoming space for Indigenous knowledge to be shared and valued.


Relevance means recognizing the importance of Indigenous knowledge and culture in today’s world. Indigenous knowledge is grounded in centuries of lived experience and is deeply connected to the land and environment. By recognizing the relevance of Indigenous knowledge, non-Indigenous people can gain a deeper understanding of their own place in the world and their responsibility to care for the environment.


Reciprocity means recognizing that relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples must be based on mutual respect, understanding, and benefit. Reciprocity involves giving and receiving in equal measure and recognizing the importance of Indigenous knowledge and culture in shaping our collective future. By practicing reciprocity, non-Indigenous people can build stronger relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities.


Responsibility means recognizing the role that non-Indigenous people have in creating a more just and equitable society for all. Responsibility involves acknowledging the harms of colonization and working towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It also means taking action to address the ongoing social, economic, and environmental issues facing Indigenous communities. By embracing their responsibility, non-Indigenous people can work towards building a more just and equitable future for all.

By embracing the principles of Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, and Responsibility, non-Indigenous people can build respectful and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities. Through these relationships, we can work towards a more just and equitable future for all.