Reconciliation Stories

In 2018, with support from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Community Conservation Research Network, CBRA developed a series of reflection papers and videos describing stories of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canadian biosphere reserves. The stories are authored by individuals who are connected to the biosphere reserve and provide diverse perspectives on how meaningful relationships are developed and how knowledge can be respectfully shared between cultures.

How Does One Build Meaningful Relationships With Indigenous Peoples?

This is a questions that biosphere reserves have been asking Indigenous friends and partners for some time. In February of 2018, during a national gathering in Ottawa, Indigenous hosts of Canada’s biosphere reserves participated in the creation of a video that provides a number of responses to this important question.

At that same gathering in February of 2018, the Indigenous Circle for Biosphere Reserves in Canada was formalized with the statement “Making a Promise” (« Engagement solennel » in French). The statement asserts that Indigenous hosts of biosphere reserves should be integral to the governance and management of each site, from the establishment and implementation of projects to the development of co-governance and co-management structures that equally respect and value Western and Indigenous knowledge systems and decision-making processes.

Here are some of the stories of reconciliation in Canada’s biosphere reserves, told by residents from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.

Reflection Papers

In 2018, with support from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Community Conservation Research Network, CBRA developed a series of reflection papers and videos describing stories of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canadian biosphere regions. The stories are authored by individuals who are connected to the biosphere reserve and provide diverse perspectives on how meaningful relationships are developed and how knowledge can be respectfully shared between cultures.

Wiigwaas Jiimaan ceremony, October 25th, 2019 Left to right: Taylor Judge, Dawson Bloor, Kyla Judge, Gracie Crafts

Reflections on Reconciliation within the Georgian Bay Biosphere Region, Anishinabek Territory

by Kyla Judge and Greg Mason from the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere

The crafting of a story of partnership in the spirit of truth and reconciliation is not easy; no single person can represent the fullness of our experiences. Rather, we can look for and share patterns. However, the crafting of this paper has been valuable in helping staff at the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve (GBB) understand where we have been and where we are on our journey together.

The Uapishka Station and Reconciliation: Working Together

by Jean-Philippe Messier, Raymond Rousselot and Guillaume Proulx from the Manicouagan-Uapishka World Biosphere Region

Photo credit: Striking Balance

astam, pī-pīkiskwātotān: “Come, let’s talk together”

by Ian King, Anthony Blair Dreaver Johnston and John Kindrachuk from the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve

The story of reconciliation in the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve (RLBR) is still being written. This is a reflection, but also a glimpse towards the horizon. How will the future unfold for the RLBR and Indigenous partners as we build relationships based on respect, shared values, growing trust, and ongoing dialogue?

Grizzly bear. Photo by Angela Carter

Treaty No. 6 and the 21st century celebration of Treaty Day

by Anthony Blair Dreaver Johnston, Mistawasis Nêhiyawak from the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve

Additional reflections about the history and meaning of Treaty No. 6 as well as the celebration of Treaty Day.

Snaw-naw-as First Nation Preschool children singing “This Land is Your Land”during tree planting at Top Bridge Community Park. Photo credit: Lauren Shaw

Working towards Reconciliation in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

by ‘Ćumqwa:tun’ (Lawrence) Mitchell, Graham Sakaki, et al. from the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Graham Sakaki is the Research and Community Engagement Coordinator of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Research Institute, and a temporary instructor in the VIU Master of Community Planning Program.

Tom and Stan Johnson with Elder Ernest Johnson. Photo submitted by Tom Johnston.

The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve: A Celebration of Natural and Cultural Ecology

by Annamarie Hatcher from the Bras D’or Lake Biosphere Reserve

Dr. Annamarie Hatcher is a mother of three and grandmother of two. She is also a consulting ecologist and a member of the board of directors of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association.

Credit: Melody Charlie

Celebrating a Place We All Call Home: Reconciliation in our Relationships on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

by Erinn Linn McMullan from the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region

Erinn is a west coast based writer-editor Erin Linn McMullan has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and a focus on community history, regional issues, marine science, and conservation.

Reconciliation Videos

Star Blanket: A Story of Reconciliation in the Redberry Lake UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

A story about friendship, reconciliation and common goals for the conservation of nature in the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, Saskatchewan (copyright Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, 2019).

Reconciliation in Action in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

An innovative governance model for the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region in British Columbia, Canada, demonstrates how UNESCO biospheres are examples of Reconciliation in Action. Produced in March 2017.

Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve

The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve includes the Bras d’Or Lake and its watershed. It comprises some 3,600 km2 in the centre of Cape Breton Island, located in Nova Scotia (Canada). UNESCO declared the Bras d’Or Lake Canada’s 16th Biosphere Reserve in June 2011.

Hišinqʷiił Regional Gathering

On September 17, 2017, in the spirit of healing and reconciliation, residents and representatives of all communities in the Clayoquot Sound region came together to recognize their unique strengths, shared history, and cultural diversity. Hišinqʷiił represented an opportunity to step forward in a positive direction for the future of the region.

Not About Garbage: A Story of Reconciliation in the Riding Mountain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

How discussions around how to address an aging landfill bring together communities and create long-lasting friendships and innovations in the Riding Mountain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Manitoba.

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A photo of boats at Alma Warf in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Region.