10 Calls to Action to natural scientists to enable reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

Friday, October 16, 2020

In 2015, after documenting testimonies from Indigenous survivors of the residential school system in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 Calls to Action to enable reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. Without personal connections to Indigenous communities, many Canadians fail to grasp the depth of intergenerational impacts of residential schools and associated systemic racism. Consequently, reconciliation remains an elusive concept.

Mary Jane Johnson, an Elder from Kluane First Nation who has worked for decades documenting Indigenous cultural resources for Kluane First Nation and the federal government; Lawrence Ignace, a policy analyst who is Anishinaabe and worked for The Assembly of First Nations on species at risk and Indigenous Knowledge; Heidi Swanson, Professor in Waterloo’s Department of Biology, specializing in freshwater toxicology who has worked across northern Canada; Kate Ballegooyen, the Resource Manager for Kluane First Nation; and Carmen Wong, the ecologist for Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon, recently published a paper that outlines 10 Calls to Action to natural scientists to enable reconciliation in their work.

Their 10 Calls to Action are triggered by frustration. All of the authors have witnessed examples where natural scientists treat Indigenous communities with blatant disrespect or with ignorance of Indigenous rights.

These 10 Calls to Action challenge the scientific community to recognize that reconciliation requires a new way of conducting natural science, one that includes and respects Indigenous communities, rights, and knowledge leading to better scientific and community outcomes.

“It is our hope that the reflections, ideas, and resources that we present inspire and empower individual scientists to take tangible action towards Reconciliation in their research."

Quote developed by all authors

Towards Reconciliation: 10 Calls to Action to natural scientists working in Canada

Call 1: We call on natural scientists to understand the socio-political landscape around their research sites.

Call 2: We call on natural scientists to recognize that generating knowledge about the land is a goal shared with Indigenous peoples and to seek meaningful relationships and possible collaboration for better outcomes for all involved.

Call 3: We call on natural scientists to enable knowledge sharing and knowledge co-production.

Call 4: We call on natural scientists studying animals to seek out advice from Elders for respectful ways of handling animals.

Call 5: We call upon natural scientists to provide meaningful opportunities for Indigenous community members, particularly youth, to experience and participate in science.

Call 6: To decolonize the landscape, we call on natural scientists to incorporate Indigenous place names as permitted.

Call 7: We call upon natural scientists and their students to take a course on Indigenous history and rights.

Call 8: We call on funding bodies to change approaches to funding.

Call 9: We call on editors of all scientific journals to recognize that publication of research on Indigenous Knowledge and cultural resources require review and permission from the respective Indigenous communities.

Call 10: Finally, we call on all natural scientists and postsecondary research institutions to develop a new vision for conducting natural science: fundamentally mainstreaming reconciliation in all aspects of the scientific endeavor, from formulation to completion.

Link to paper: https://www.facetsjournal.com/doi/10.1139/facets-2020-0005

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