Canadian IPCA Alliance

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) are “lands and waters where Indigenous governments have the primary role in protecting and conserving ecosystems through Indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. Culture and language are the heart and soul of an IPCA.” (We Rise Together, 2018, p. 5)

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Origins of the IPCA Alliance

In 2017, an Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) was formed to provide advice and recommendations on how to achieve Canada Biodiversity Target 1 by 2020 in the spirit and practice of reconciliation. Members of ICE, which included Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens of Canada, hosted four regional gatherings, developed a definition for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in the Canadian context, illustrated numerous case studies, and put forward 28 recommendations on how to support the establishment of IPCAs in diverse geographic and cultural contexts. The historic ICE 2018 report, entitled We Rise Together, was transferred to the federal government during a pipe ceremony in March of 2018.

The ICE Committee was co-chaired by Eli Enns, President of the IISAAK OLAM Foundation, and Danika Littlechild, an Indigenous lawyer from Treaty 6 territory with expertise in Indigenous and environmental law.

“The [Indigenous Circle of Experts for the Pathway to Canada Target 1] process has resulted in positive work, learnings, expertise and relationships among members and participants at Regional Gatherings. There is an opportunity to maintain the resulting momentum. . . . Roles and outputs could include . . . engaging other partners who can contribute to the success of IPCAs, such as universities, non-profit organizations (including environmental NGOs and philanthropic bodies), industry and municipal governments (could include the Indigenous Leadership Initiative’s Guardian program)” (We Rise Together, 2018, 67)

Sustaining the Momentum of the Indigenous Circle of Experts

The Canadian IPCA Alliance is a vehicle for continuing the momentum of the Indigenous Circle of Experts for the Pathway to Canada Target 1. It is a movement of solidarity among Indigenous Peoples from across Canada who are actively working toward establishing IPCAs within their traditional territories.

This movement includes a variety of supporters including federal government agencies, provincial and territory governments, regional and municipal governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, the general public, the international community, and philanthropy.

“IPCAs represent . . . an opportunity for true reconciliation to take place between Indigenous and settler societies, and between broader Canadian society and the land and waters, including relationships in pre-existing parks and protected areas” (We Rise Together, 2018, 36-37)

The Canadian IPCA Alliance supports the work of the international ICCA Consortium, an international association dedicated to promoting the appropriate recognition of, and support to, territories and areas conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (ICCAs--territories of life).

Building Capacity for Conservation through Reconciliation

Members of the Canadian IPCA Alliance are available to provide various services to support the implementation of the ICE 2018 report, We Rise Together, including but not limited to:

  • In-person workshops on how to declare an IPCA

  • In-depth organizational development training around reconciliation and conservation

  • Guidance on how to set up or run a guardians program

  • Mechanisms for asserting hunting and fishing permitting

The Alliance functions as a national collaborative secretariat for the Pathway to Canada Target 1 (and beyond), working to support grassroots IPCA declarations at their origin. The Alliance lives independently from any federal agency and will be housed by the IISAAK OLAM Foundation during its incubation period.

There is an important role and responsibility for everyone in ensuring its long-term success and the Alliance is keen to work with all allies in the spirit and practice of peace and friendship.

“ICE recommends that federal, provincial and territorial governments support Indigenous-designed and -led cultural programs in existing parks and protected areas to educate the public (and where applicable, government employees) about Indigenous natural laws and stewardship. This can be done through Indigenous Peoples’ geographical, spiritual, social and economic connections to a given park or protected area.” (We Rise Together, 2018, 59)

The IISAAK OLAM Foundation is one of the organizational partners supporting a Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Project led by the University of Guelph entitled ‘Conservation through Reconciliation’. This is one of the ways in which allies are coming together to support the work of the Canadian IPCA Alliance.

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“IISAAK: To observe, appreciate, and act accordingly.”

- Nuu-chah-nulth law of RESPECT, depicted by the sun-moon crest

Find resources and more information about IPCAs and Biodiversity in Canada including the We Rise Together report, One With Nature, and Canada’s Conservation Vision.