Weblog #4

This weblog is the most aligned with my topic, and I was particluarly excited to begin reading through information on it. I wanted to start by looking at sacred sites within First Nation’s territory, as I thought this would be applicable.

Site 1: First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada’s Courts: Book Review

In this review a distinction is made between two different kinds of protection one “strategy relies on obtaining current recognition and protection for what an indigenous people once unequivocally held and the latter strategy relies on the idea of protecting what an indigenous people once unequivocally were”. This is an interesting point to add to my reflection on the direction of my paper. Is the viewpoint of whether land is a “holding” needing to be protected, or is integral to the identity of a culture important, if the outcome is the same (land getting protected)? There is a distinction between two different types of strategies based on historical legal proceedings, the first being related to the “Meare’s Island Case,” and the second to the “Taku River and Haida Case”.


From here I was, naturally, interested in finding out more about the cases. I found a website that clarified the decisions in the Taku River and Haida cases.

Site 2: The Haida Nation and Taku River Tlingit Decisions: Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities for Aboriginal Consultation and Accommodation

This case sets a precedent for consultation of Aboriginal groups. Basically, legally recognized claims are not required to “trigger” the consultation process. Impact upon asserted rights of groups is enough of a reason to enforce consultation. This decision is important as it values the rights of First Nations outside of the span of “legally recognized rights”.


This site got me thinking about whether there are similar stories of successful environmental management decisions or activism, so I began researching this.

Site 3: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: Environment and Natural Resources: Success Stories

This website offers links to specific projects that have been completed both through government agency help and media attention. One thing that I keep thinking as I look through the site though, is that all of these experiences are mediated through the government agencies of the “colonizers”. This may be the quickest and most effective way to create change in a community, but is it the best way? Are FN rights and values respected in this process or must they conform to particular enforced criteria that may undermine their own values?


Site 4: IEN: Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign

I had looked at this site before, but in a different format and scope. Now I found something incredibly applicable to where my assignment is going. This particular portion of the Indigenous Environmental Network is focussed on the tar sands in Northern Canada and their impact on Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups and the environment. There is a variety of information in various media formats, presented by elders, youth and all other community members. Various bands are connected together on this issue and multiple viewpoints are represented through this website. Additonally, the focus on the tar sands as an issue is addressed, as 10 0r so years ago very few people knew of the environmental toll being taken in these areas. Media has brought light to these concerns.


Site 5: Native Web Resources: Environment

This site is a collaborative effort whose goal is to “provide a cyberspace for Earth’s indigenous peoples”. They aim to do this through sharing informational resources between regional, national and international individuals and groups and by “foster[ing] communication.” Different groups may upload their websites on a specific issue and may then coordinate their efforts or find support. The site is run by both “Native and non-Native” individuals, and hosts content from all over the world (although the majority of information and sites are from the US or Canada). Some great links are provided for environmental initiatives, concerns and success stories. Additionally under different headings (there are 35 different categories), there are resources specific to each topic, including many resources for Indigenous chat rooms or networking sites.



So ends my cyber-travel for the purposes of this assignment. I have acquired resources on a breadth of topics and have honed my research down to what is most critical for me to address in depth in my final project.


November 19, 2012   No Comments

Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and Indigenous Food First

#4 The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources

The CIER is an organisation which is established by Canadian First Nations groups. Their website is easy to navigate and has four major focusses: taking action on climate change, building sustainable communities, protecting lands and waters, and conserving biodiversity. Basically this is a gathering point for initiatives, partnerships, issues and anything else concerning First Nations environmental concerns.

The website provides links to their library collection, reports on initiatives and also encourages partnerships with different communities. If any FN group is wanting to partner with CIER they will either help them address a topic area through project funding that they already have, will help them find funding to work on a community project, or will provide workshops.

Aside from the obvious good that the site provides, what struck me, after our readings so far, was how much this site looks like a typical government or company site. Also, even though the individuals on the board are FN members (and the majority have had some role in the leadership of their own community) they are also all people who have lots of credentials in the western sense; they have signed major financial deals, have degrees, headed up different societies, etc.. I’m not sure if this is an important observation or not, but I wonder what message this website sends, and whether it is also set up in a way that would be appealing for those who provide the funding for the projects the CIER carries out.


#5 Indigenous Food First

While on the CIER site I followed a link to find out more about a program called IFF (Indigenous Food First). This is a new website with a focus on Indigenous Youth exploring food and what it means to them. The launch is in October 2012, so at this time there is only a section with some articles, an about page and a sign-up section for the newsletter that they put out. One interesting link is to the Dreamcatcher Youth Conference, which supports positive projects by Aboriginal youth who are making a difference in their community.


September 23, 2012   No Comments

Metis Harvesting Rights in Alberta

Continuing my search for information related to the environmental issues surfacing in Alberta, I have stumbled upon an interesting case regarding harvesting rights of the Metis.  Harvesting refers to the rights of the Metis, First Nations, and Inuit to collect foods by fishing, hunting, and farming.

Metis Nation of Alberta Harvesting Policy

Garry Hirsekorn was found guilty of two counts under the Alberta Wildlife Act and fined $700 after killing a mule deer in southern Alberta.  It is argued that his case was a planned action by the Metis to bring attention to the harvesting rights established (Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution) by the Alberta government.  The court proceedings started in April 2009, and the ruling was

Fish and Wildlife was aware of the planned hunt, but it is argued that the hunt was used for political purposes and not for traditional purposes.  Furthermore, it is argued that there is no historical Metis community in southern Alberta, therefore Hirsekorn is guilty of illegal hunting.

News Article for Hirsekorn’s Verdict

The decision has been appealed (in August 2012), but there are 25 other Metis charged with illegal hunting and are currently awaiting trial.

Hirsekorn’s Appeal

This case refers frequently to  the case of Steve and Roddy Powley, who killed a moose in October of 1993.  They identified the moose with a Metis card, specifying it was intended to be food for the winter.  Despite this identification, Ontario Conservation Officers charged the Powleys for hunting without a license and unlawful possession of a moose.  The judge ruled that the Powleys have a right to hunt, based upon Section 35 of the Constitution Act (1982).  Charges were dismissed, but the Crown appealed.  In February of 2001, the Court of Appeal upheld the early decision, but the Crown appealed to the Supreme Court.  In September of 2003, the Supreme Court supported the initial verdict as well, and supports the Metis right to harvest year-round.

The Powley Test 


September 23, 2012   No Comments

Alberta’s Environmental Issues

I am toying with two potential areas of research, one of which is the complexities presented when trying to find balance between modern environmental issues and indigenous traditions.  After reading about the struggles that surface during traditional whale hunting practices, I began to wonder what issues are present in good old, land locked, Alberta.

The issues surfacing are a bit different.  Instead of traditional practices conflicting with modern animal rights issues, Albertans are facing conflict related to the oil industry – Northern Alberta is “ground zero” for the Tar Sands Gigaproject, in which more than 20 companies are currently operating.  The Mikisew Cree First National, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Fort McKay Cree Nation, Beaker Lake Cree First Nation Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, and the Metis are facing destruction of land, ecosystems, cultural heritage and community health.

Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign

When I was feeling overwhelmed by the negative impact of the Tar Sands, I checked out the other side of the issue, visiting the Alberta Government’s web site.  Alberta’s First Nations Consultation Policy on Land Management and Resource Development is working to balance resource development and Treaty rights, using feedback from First Nations, “providing a voice for Aboriginal people in the province’s regional land use planning”.

Alberta’s Oil Sands (Government Web Site)

Other Sites I found:

Turtle Island Native Network

Rights of Mother Earth: Restoring Indigenous Life Ways of Responsibility and Respect

Tar Sands Action

September 22, 2012   No Comments

Forests and Oceans for the Future

#1 Fisheries and Oceans for the Future

While searching for another link to the video “Return to Gitxaała” I came across the website Forests and Oceans for the Future. This website has a wealth of information about the Gitxaała Nation and their resource management strategies.

The website includes information on how the Gitxaała are combining their TEK with “western science” resource management strategies to meet the needs of their community. The process is undertaken by faculty and students at UBC and community members. They are focussed on resource management strategies in Northern BC with but they include research from parts of America, Western Europe and New Zealand. One of their underlying goals is fostering mutual respect and effective communication between stakeholders.

The focus of the website is on public education, policy research and ecological research with regards to resource management. To this end they include links to publications that are related to research with Indigenous groups, podcasts on the topic, and links to blogs where issues relating to TEK and resource management are being discussed.

In addition, the website provides links to public access lesson plans, which, although they are more suitable to secondary students could be altered for an elementary classroom. I found it to be a very interesting site with a lot of options for further research.


September 17, 2012   No Comments