The project will help develop greater mutual understanding between Indigenous leaders and ENGOs that work on conservation issues and will produce some tools ENGOs can use to support Indigenous conservation governance.

It is a partnership between Sustainability Network, Iisaak Olam, University of Guelph 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 to 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of marine areas by 2020, while working toward nation-to-nation reconciliation.

In March of 2018, ICE tabled their report titled ‘We Rise Together’, which 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.

This collaboration will generate and disseminate knowledge and tools to the ENGO sector in a number of ways:

a public event at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto on September 21 2018 brought together ~S100 conversation NGO leaders with a panel of ICE Members: Eli Enns, Lisa Young, Marilyn Baptise and Steven Nitah with moderator Dr. Deborah McGregor. The discussion built awareness within the ENGO sector about the ICE recommendations and the challenges and opportunities for ENGOs seeking to better support Indigenous-led conservation. The panel was videotaped and can be viewed here.

• a webinar on the the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP is regarded as the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples. In Canada, the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission speaks to UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and calls on the federal government of Canada to develop a national action plan and strategies to achieve UNDRIP.

Presenters included Danika Littlechild, UNESCO and Littlechild Law; Eli Enns, Indigenous Circle of Experts for The Pathway to Canada Target 1, and Jessica Clogg, West Coast Environmental Law. Kris Archie, of the Circle on Philanthropy and Indigenous Peoples in Canada, moderated the webinar.

a two day long workshop in the GTA on December 6-7, 2018 will examine how environmental organizations can better account for settler colonialism in their work and thus make their work with Indigenous communities more effective. This gathering will reprise an enormously successful “Indigenizing Canadian Environmental Identities” session we organized in February 2018. Lead facilitator Dr. Damien Lee and co-facilitators Kat Ryan and Eli Enns will explore the issues of positional privilege, power, and ethical partnership with Indigenous peoples with the support of Indigenous knowledge keepers and Elders.


Together, these activities will help support the transformation of conservation practice in Canada and encourage reconciliation in the conservation sector.

Funding for this work is provided by:

In Partnership with: