SESSION 05: Indigenous Forum #1

Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainability in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management (with a focus on World Heritage) – Part 1

Athabasca University’s Nukskahtowin (Meeting Place), formerly the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research, will be hosting a webinar on Indigenous perspectives on sustainability with a focus on World Heritage conservation and management. This webinar will take place in July 2021 as part of the activities of the Sustainability Theme of the Our World Heritage Initiative.
As a centre for ideas and people to come together to work with Indigenous knowledge, Nukskahtowin works towards inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and methodologies. Nukskahtowin acknowledges the different worldviews of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and follows the laws of wahkohtowin; the relationship between animate and inanimate; respecting the interrelationships of land, culture, language, and the environment. We acknowledge that we come from a community of diversity with diverse worldviews but are working together to create a space for Indigenous inclusion, and in this webinar, inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in World Heritage discussions and dominant worldviews that has shaped the international approaches to heritage management.
The aim of this webinar is to bring Indigenous knowledge to front and centre in discussions around sustainability and sustainable development and as part of the established systems within the World Heritage context. For this purpose, we would like to draw on the knowledge of our Elders, leaders, and traditional knowledge holders who come from different Indigenous communities in order to have a meaningful dialogue with international Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants about the concept of sustainability from an Indigenous perspective.
The webinar will examine Indigenous worldviews as they relate to the protection of World Heritage sites and the connections with land and between people and places. The discussions will be aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) as a framework to establish mutually respectful relationships and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action to make concrete changes in society. 

Other webinar in this series: Indigenous Forum 2

Shabnam Inanloo Dailoo (Members of OWH Sustainability Debate)

Lead Elder: Maria Campbell (Elder-in-Residence, Athabasca University) 

Marilyn Poitras & Priscilla Campbeau


Martin Heavy Head is a member and Elder of Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe) of the Blackfoot Confederacy in southern Alberta. He was born on the Blood Reserve and attended residential school. He Completed a BSC at the at University of Lethbridge in 1983. He served as a society member with his wife in 1990 to 1994. They kept a Thunder Pipe from 1995 to 2005. Beaver bundle rights were transferred to him in 2002. Martin now serves as a grandfather for sacred societies on the Blood Reserve. Martin has been elected to Blood Tribe Council in 1996-2000, 2016-2020, and 2020-2024. Martin is a member of the Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society responsible for repatriation of Blackfoot cultural and sacred objects. He was in Azarbaijan when Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi (it is pictured or written, in the Blackfoot language) was designated as World Heritage Site in 2019. Marin was involved in the nomination process for many years. Áísínai’pi is Canada’s newest World Heritage site.

Jeanette Armstrong is a spokesperson for Indigenous peoples’ rights. The award-winning writer and activist, novelist and poet has always sought to change deeply biased misconceptions related to Aboriginal Peoples.
Jeannette Armstrong was born and raised on the Penticton Indian Reserve, one of eight Syilx (Okanagan) reserves located in both Canada and the United States. She is a fluent speaker of the Syilx language, Nsyilxcn, and is a knowledge keeper of plant medicines, Syilx traditions, and cultural protocols. She is a writer, poet, teacher, and artist, and is a strong voice in Indigenous environmental ethics. Armstrong holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria and a PhD from the University of Greifswald, Germany. She also has been granted honorary doctorates from St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, and the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Currently, she is working as an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies with the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC Okanagan. In 2013 she was appointed a Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Philosophy to research, document, categorize and analyze Okanagan Syilx oral literature in Nsyilxcn.

Isaac Murdoch, whose Ojibway name is Manzinapkinegego’anaabe / Bombgiizhik is from the fish clan and is from Serpent River First Nation. Isaac grew up in the traditional setting of hunting, fishing and trapping. Many of these years were spent learning from Elders in the northern regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Isaac is well respected as a storyteller and traditional knowledge holder. For many years he has led various workshops and cultural camps that focuses on the transfer of knowledge to youth. Other areas of expertise include: traditional ojibway paint, imagery/symbolism, harvesting, medicine walks, & ceremonial knowledge, cultural camps, Anishinaabeg oral history, birch bark canoe making, birch bark scrolls, Youth & Elders workshops, etc. He has committed his life to the preservation of Anishinaabe cultural practices and has spent years learning directly from Elders.

Dave Courchene — Nii Gaani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man) — is a respected elder and knowledge keeper of the Anishinaabe Nation who has devoted his life to environmental stewardship. From lighting the sacred fire at the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992, to sharing the stage with spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama, Courchene’s leadership has had a global influence. In 2002, he founded the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness, a sacred lodge recognized internationally and by the Assembly of First Nations and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as one of the most important gathering places for Indigenous peoples in Canada.