The goal of this program is to develop greater mutual understanding between Indigenous leaders and ENGOs that work on conservation issues. We hope to produce some tools that ENGOs can use to support Indigenous conservation governance.
It is a partnership within the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership and all those involved who have committed to working together in ethical space.
This is a critical time in Canadian conservation practice. After decades of state-led and expert driven conservation practice, where the establishment of protected areas frequently displaced Indigenous communities from their traditional territories, the Canadian Government publicly announced their commitment to repairing the relationship with Indigenous Peoples affected by past and present conservation policy.
An Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) was assembled and charged with developing recommendations on how Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) can contribute to Canada’s commitment under the UN Convention of Biological Diversity Aichi Targets to expand protected areas coverage while working toward nation-to-nation reconciliation.
The ICE report titled ‘We Rise Together’ contains recommendations for Indigenous, Provincial, Territorial and Federal governments as well as for civil society organizations, on how to support the establishment of IPCAs and Indigenous-led conservation more broadly. At its core, Indigenous-led conservation is advancing Indigenous rights and responsibilities, while integrating both Western and Indigenous knowledge in the development and implementation of conservation initiatives aligned with principles of shared governance, respect and care for the land and waters.
This emerging shift in conservation practice contains within it significant challenges and opportunities for ENGOs who have largely defined and driven the conservation agenda in recent decades. The objective of this work is to mobilize several sectors and launch a dialogue that produces a set of resources that will help build capacity in the ENGO sector for supporting Indigenous-led conservation governance.
To date this collaboration has:
• hosted a public event in Toronto that brought together ~100 conversation NGO leaders with a panel of ICE Members: Eli Enns, Lisa Young, Marilyn Baptise and Steven Nitah with moderator Dr. Deborah McGregor. The panel was videotaped and can be viewed HERE.
• organized a webinar on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Presenters included Danika Littlechild, UNESCO and Littlechild Law; Eli Enns, Indigenous Circle of Experts for The Pathway to Canada Target 1, Jessica Clogg, West Coast Environmental Law and can be viewed HERE.
• two 2-day retreats in the GTA examined how environmental organizations can better account for settler colonialism in their work and thus make their work with Indigenous communities more effective. Lead facilitator Dr. Damien Lee and co-facilitators Kat Ryan and Eli Enns explored the issues of positional privilege, power, and ethical partnership with Indigenous peoples with the support of Indigenous knowledge keepers and Elders.
In fall 2020, we are planning a gathering which will give ENGO leaders an opportunity to engage with CRP Elders Senate member Larry McDermott and a number of key priorities. Later in the year we hope to launch a cross-cultural learning network that will provide further learning opportunities on the land.
Together, these activities are helping to support the transformation of conservation practice in Canada and encourage reconciliation in the conservation sector.
Funding for this work is provided by: