Explore, describe and develop a methodology to best account Indigenous perspectives on the value of Land Guardianship in Mountain Regions and the contributions to the biodiversity and well-being of their Nations

Principal Investigator: Norma Kassi, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Science, McGill University

 

Opportunity: This project will improve understanding of how the Indigenous Land Guardian, Stewards and Monitor programs, are creating impacts within mountain systems, ecosystems, mountain biodiversity, traditional food and medicinal sources for Indigenous communities. Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship can be a source of important and effective investments for economic stimulus in communities, particularly where jobs related to conservation represent a proportionally important sector of employment. Federal investments in Indigenous-led conservation can also lead to a boost in the local and regional economies due to capital and services needs related to the projects.

In the North, the need for Land Guardians is in demand and training is required, which this project has the ability to contribute to. Indigenous languages are dying in many places and Indigenous knowledge lies within those languages. This will be part of the research and will move towards developing a framework, especially with the Taku River Tlingit, Ross River Dena Council and NWT First Nations.

There will be a focus on working with Indigenous Youth on Community-Based Research and to align with McGill University and their students. The training portion of this research program will teach Youth how to design and deliver community-based, Indigenous-led research projects, as well as engage in partnerships with Western knowledge.

Objectives:

  1. Advance the role of both Indigenous and Western ways of knowing, doing and being in evidence-based decision making.
  2. Create opportunities for interdisciplinary and inter-cultural learning, particularly for Indigenous tainees as well as knowledge dissemination.

Key Outcomes & Impact: 

This Research Program is envisioned to be long-term with some flexibility to enable the uptake of new opportunities as they arise. These deliverables will adapt and evolve throughout the project.

  • 2-day workshop held with partners (Year 1)
  • Quarterly meetings with ILI, JWG and JCCA (Year 1)
  • Engagement with McGill University, Yukon College, NWT, Southern Lakes, Taku River Tlingit and Ross River (Year 1)
  • Report analyzing the value of Land Guardians (Year 2)
  • Community-based research training (Year 1 and 2)
  • Indigenous and non-indigenous youth who understand how western and Indigenous knowledge combined can work together (on-going)
  • Trained Land Guardians (on-going)
  • Research Publications (on-going)
  • More educated Youth who want to step forward into academic institutions or leadership roles (On-going)
  • Contributing to reconciliation through on the land learning (On-going)

Research Plan: 

This project aims to improve understanding of how Indigenous Land Guardian programs, land management and stewardship are creating impacts within mountain systems, ecosystems, mountain biodiversity, traditional food and medicinal sources for Indigenous communities. Land Guardian programs employ Indigenous community members to act as stewards on the land, patrolling protected areas, monitoring fish and wildlife harvests, collecting data on the impacts of climate change, tracking industrial development activities, and educating visitors about proper land use (Social Ventures Australia, 2016). With the growing demand for training and building capacity in communities with Land Guardians, understanding the value and benefits of these programs will be imperative as part of a broader vision in which practicing and strengthening Indigenous culture creates sustainable livelihoods and opportunities for communities to share their culture, land, and water with other Canadians

Alongside this, the project will link this project to a Community-Based Research training program which will be focused on working with Indigenous Youth and to align with McGill University and their students. Indigenous knowledge is developed over a long period and passed down from generation to generation through storytelling and practical teachings. However, these days, knowledge is not passed on as easily as it once was. Not only do we need to find ways to improve intergenerational knowledge transfer, we must also work collectively to empower and build the resiliency of our young people in every way that we can to prepare them for an uncertain future. Youth will be trained to design and deliver community-based, Indigenous-led research projects, as well as engage in partnerships with Western knowledge. Youth will connect and learn about their homelands. We will support them to ask critical questions that address urgent community needs. They will seek answers by rooting themselves in their own knowledge and expanding their solutions with multiple knowledge systems. We will train a new generation of land-based leaders. Land-based learning assumes an environmental approach to learning that recognizes the deep connection and relationship of Indigenous peoples to the land. It seeks to offer education pertaining to the land that is grounded within Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy. Being the eyes, ears and boots on the ground using Indigenous Laws of Conservation is of huge interest due the increasing concerns of high levels of endangered species and species at risk around the world and in Canada.

Other Team Members:

Catherine Potvin, McGill University, Academic Advisor

Partners: Indigenous Leadership Initiative, First Nations Federal Joint Working Group on Land Guardians, Joint Committee on Climate Action, First Nations Communities, Yukon Government