Navigating the Road Ahead: Indigenous Collaborative Programming

May 21st, 2021

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Indigenous peoples have unique and complex relationships with land that extends beyond using land for their personal or community needs or as their life-support system. Indigenous relationships with land include cultural, spiritual, economic, stewardship, kinship, governance and rights-based aspects. Ensuring that these relationships can continue is critical to the future and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples. Any collaborative process that is undertaken will result in decisions that need to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and knowledge systems. Without this understanding, there can be no meaningful collaborations or relationships with any Indigenous community. 

Prior to collaborating with Indigenous communities, project teams needs to engage in personal and organizational reflection. This reflection is to help identify barriers or challenges that could hinder the relationship development process, as well as identify what is required to move forward in a good way. 

Typically, collaborators need to have a clear understanding of: 

  1. The Indigenous Reconciliation Process (Including the TRC’s Calls to Action); 
  2. The Indigenous communities which they would like to build a relationship with; 
  3. Internal challenges of good relationship building or collaboration, such as past biases towards the Indigenous community, poor working relationships, and/or grievances; 
  4. External factors that make good collaboration difficult, such as seasonality of projects that could interfere with the Indigenous community’s harvesting or social practices; 
  5. Knowledge systems and problematic outcomes. For example, being mindful that prioritizing Western or Eurocentric forms of governance, such as Robert’s Rules of Order, over Indigenous protocols could create challenges to meaningful collaboration; 
  6. Benefits to the local Indigenous communities; and 
  7. Reasons why you are collaborating and/or the duration of the collaboration.


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