Responding to the past century of mining in Timmins, Ontario, Martin Millen, Traditional Practitioner, Mary Boyden, Indigenous Community Relations Manager for Porcupine Gold Mines, and a group of Indigenous Knowledge Guardians from across Canada, have formed Anishanaabe Maamwaye Aki Kiigayewin - an Ojibwe phrase that means all people coming together to heal the Earth. This emerging partnership is the result of approximately three years of meaningful collaboration between Indigenous Knowledge Guardians from across Canada, a team of university researchers and a major mining company, all working to build trust and develop a shared meaning of environmental reclamation.
The Indigenous Knowledge Guardians at the centre of Anishanaabe Maamwaye Aki Kiigayewin recognize there is a need to develop a new, collaborative, Indigenous-led model for mine. This new model is
founded on a holistic, intercultural approach that seeks to promote physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health on individual, community, intercultural levels while healing the land. Intercultural learning is a critical component in moving forward as it is viewed as an integral step in achieving respect and understanding of Traditional Knowledge (Regan, 2005; Duran & Duran, 2000). This initiative has been described as a social innovation, unique in its design, scope, scalability and potential impact.
The over-arching purpose of this proposed partnership development project is to support and document the emergence and continued development of Anishanaabe Maamwaye Aki Kiigayewin in Timmins, Ontario as an Indigenous-led social innovation. Therefore, the goal of the research is to explore models of, and approaches to, mine restoration and rehabilitation that integrate, in a meaningful way, traditional indigenous knowledge and practice that helps to foster decolonization and promote constructive intercultural relationships, especially Indigenous-corporate relations in the mining industry.
For the purposes of this research, we define decolonization as a process, as yet unrealized, to enhance intercultural understandings, actively address the structural inequalities in power, opportunity and equity flowing from colonization, and promote freedom and sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples (Alfred, 2008; Kohn & McBride, 2011; Smith, 1999). Social innovation and resilience can provide a useful theory of change for fostering the kind of social change that decolonization calls for. We define social innovation as an initiative,product,process or program that
meets a critical social need and fundamentally changes the underlying values and beliefs or the flows of resource and authority within a social system (Westley & Antadze, 2011; Westley, Zimmerman, &
The proposed partnership development project will:
1) Employ critical Indigenist research methodologies that question colonial planning and research practices (i.e. decolonizing practices) in order to explore and foster meaningful intercultural partnerships;
2) Investigate how social innovation and resilience can be used as tools to describe, and stimulate, the social change required to foster decolonizing, Indigenous-corporate relations in mining practice;
3) Develop innovative, collaborative models of mine reclamation, based on Traditional Knowledge;
4) Explore innovative models of social enterprise that will allow Anishanaabe Maamwaye Aki Kiigayewin to be a self-sustaining and
autonomous entity; and,
5) Disseminate our conceptual and practical research findings to Indigenous, academic and corporate audiences. The founding motivation of this proposal was to build on the existing base of trust among Indigenous, academic and corporate partners to ensure that Anishanaabe Maamwaye Aki Kiigayewin continues to foster innovative and constructive intercultural relationships.