Reconciliation: An Indigenous ontology of climate change

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)


2024 Larkworthy Memorial Lecture

Reconciliation: An Indigenous ontology of climate change

Presented by Dr. Deborah McGregor, PhD Associate Professor Canada Research Chair Indigenous Environmental Justice Osgoode Hall Law School York University

Location: Optometry room 347


Deborah McGregor, Anishinabe, PhD, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair: Indigenous Environmental Justice, Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University.

Professor McGregor’s research has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including environmental and water governance, environmental and climate justice, health and environment and Indigenous legal traditions.  Professor McGregor remains actively involved in a variety of Indigenous communities, serving as an advisor and continuing to engage in community-based research and initiatives.  Professor McGregor has been at the forefront of Indigenous environmental and climate justice and Indigenous research theory and practice. Her work has been shared through the IEJ project website


My remarks will articulate what an Indigenous ontology of climate change looks like, with an emphasis on Anishinabek perspectives. Indigenous scholars have delineated a distinct formulation of Indigenous climate justice based on Indigenous legal orders, knowledge systems, and conceptions of justice. Few proposed solutions are Indigenous-led or adequately informed by Indigenous ways of knowing. Over the past few years, climate change/justice has become a central focus for Indigenous peoples, with climate emergencies declared by numerous First Nations and the Assembly of First Nations. By applying Anishinabek theoretical foundations to Indigenous climate futures, I provide a deeper understanding of climate justice issues facing Indigenous peoples and propose viable approaches to seeking a sustainable climate future on Indigenous peoples’ own terms. I will relate how these concepts can help realize the goals of Reconciliation in Canada. In my role as a leader in environmental and climate justice, Indigenous knowledge (IK) and Indigenous research methods has resulted in numerous advisory roles. Many of these initiatives, designed to gather independent advice, feed into policy development. Some notable examples include my appointment to the Indigenous Circle of Experts for the Assembly of First Nations Climate Change and Environment Committee. This enables me to contribute to national First Nation environmental directives in a number of areas, including: contributions to international position papers and UN Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings, and contributions to international agreements such as the Convention on Biodiversity. I was also invited to contribute to the international and national climate assessments. In Canada, I was co-author to the Food Security and Food Safety chapter to the Health of Canadians in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action assessment published in 2022.