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.
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M’s-it No’kmaqa et al, "'Awakening the Sleeping Giant': Re-Indigenization Principles for Transforming Biodiversity Conservation in Canada and Beyond" (2021) 6 FACETS 839.