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Indigenous Resurgence, Conservation, Biodiversity, Protected Areas, Indigenous Rights and Title, Indigenous Governance, Indigenous-Led Conservation, Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas


Precipitous declines in biodiversity threaten planetary boundaries, requiring transformative changes to conservation. Colonial systems have decimated species and ecosystems and dispossessed Indigenous Peoples of their rights, territories, and livelihoods. Despite these challenges, Indigenous governed lands retain a large proportion of biodiversity-rich landscapes. Indigenous Peoples have stewarded the land in ways that support people and nature in respectful relationship. Biodiversity conservation and resurgence of Indigenous autonomies are mutually compatible aims. To work towards these aims requires significant transformation in conservation and re-Indigenization. Key to both are systems that value people and nature in all their diversity and relationships. This paper introduces Indigenous principles for re-Indigenizing conservation: (i) embracing Indigenous worldviews of ecologies and M’s-it No’kmaq, (ii) learning from Indigenous languages of the land, (iii) Natural laws and Netukulimk, (iv) correct relationships, (v) total reflection and truth, (vi) Etuaptmumk—“two-eyed seeing,” and “strong like two people”, and (vii) “story-telling/ story-listening”. Although the principles derive primarily from a Mi’kmaw worldview, many are common to diverse Indigenous ways of knowing. Achieving the massive effort required for biodiversity conservation in Canada will entail transformations in worldviews and ways of thinking and bold, proactive actions, not solely as means but as ongoing imperatives.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.