Sustainable development of Aboriginal traditional territories: Identifying guiding ecological values, principles and management challenges

Jackiw, Raeya
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University of Guelph

The environment is integral to Canadian Aboriginal worldviews and livelihoods. As such, many Canadian Aboriginal groups have begun generating sustainable development plans to facilitate the responsible development of their traditional territories. These plans identify Aboriginal ecological values and management principles, and in some cases, outline relationship protocols to guide interactions between Aboriginal and proponent stakeholders, to address challenges faced by Aboriginal groups during traditional territory development. For such plans and protocols to facilitate the sustainable development of Aboriginal territories, a thorough understanding of Aboriginal ecological valued components, management principles, and the challenges Aboriginal actors encounter during development, is needed. Thus, the goal of this study was to review and synthesize valued ecological components, management principles, and challenges, identified by Aboriginal groups across Canada. I found that valued ecological components are discussed more prevalently than principles, which are noted more frequently than challenges. The most prominently noted valued ecological components were harvestable wildlife groups, like plants and game, and the habitats that support them. The most frequently noted management principles were stewardship and sustainable development principles, integral to the Aboriginal worldview. Other principles, like predator management and environmental manipulation, were less prominently noted but contested between Aboriginal groups. Lastly, the most pervasive challenges noted included knowledge and participation barriers, miscommunications between Aboriginals and other stakeholders, and the rapid pace of development in traditional territories. Overall, deliberate sustainable development planning, which incorporates Aboriginal values and principles, and addresses challenges associated with development, including those relating to stakeholder relationships, is important for ensuring that Aboriginal rights and environmental visions associated with their territories are realised.

Aboriginal traditional territories, Sustainable development, Natural heritage, Management