2020 Indigenous Heritage Engagement Sessions
The Indigenous Heritage Circle (IHC) was invited by Parks Canada to organize and report on national engagement sessions in 2020 to explore issues of both exclusive and shared interest to the IHC and Parks Canada. For Parks Canada, the engagement process was part of its commitment to review its cultural heritage policy suite in response to the Truth and Reconciliation’s (TRC) Call to Action #79. For the IHC, which was developing a strategic plan for our organization, the engagement offered an important opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous Heritage specialists about how the IHC could advance their Indigenous Heritage goals. Two sessions were held in person – the first in Millbrook, Nova Scotia (5-6 February 2020) and the second in Edmonton, Alberta (26-27 February 2020). Due to Covid-19 public health restrictions, the in-person session planned for Ottawa, Ontario was replaced by English and French online sessions on 11-12 June 2020 and 17-18 June 2020.
The 2020 Indigenous Heritage gatherings involved more than 40 Elders, cultural practitioners and thought leaders in the field of Indigenous Heritage. They articulated a range of issues facing organizations interested in caring for Indigenous Heritage, but also offered wise and frank counsel to Parks Canada to support the agency’s review of its Cultural Resource Management Policy and to the IHC for its general operations and its strategic planning project.
UNDRIP 2022 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The IHC released a report in May 2022 exploring how Canada’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration, or UNDRIP) could help inform practices, policies, and legislation to better support Indigenous heritage. The study, which was conducted from December 2021 to March 2022, used insights from interviews with Indigenous heritage practitioners and legal experts as well as readings. In June 2021, the federal UNDRIP Act came into force, requiring the government to develop an action plan and review federal laws to align with the Declaration. This report explores what Indigenous people would like to see as a result and what is necessary for them to fully participate in this discussion as equals.
In addition to French and English versions of the report, summaries have been translated into three Indigenous languages: ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ nēhiyawēwin (Plains Cree), ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ (Inuktut), and Mi’kmawi’simk (Mi’kmaq language).
Funding provided by Parks Canada
ICOMOS International Working Group on Indigenous Heritage
The IHC will be partnering with ICOMOS Canada (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) to help develop guidance that will assist ICOMOS when evaluating UNESCO World Heritage Site nominations that address Indigenous cultural heritage. This partnership will also develop guidance for professionals, decision-makers, and governments to improve their efforts to conserve Indigenous heritage places.
In 2019 the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change received a mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to develop comprehensive legislation to protect federally-owned historic places. The IHC will continue to lobby the Federal Government to assure that any new legislation fully respects and integrates the distinct legal frameworks that govern the relationship between Indigenous Nations and their cultural heritage. The IHC will also lobby for broader legislation that protects Indigenous cultural heritage that is not owned by the Government of Canada, and push for federal legislation that recognizes and protects Indigenous languages, practices, and intangible cultural heritage.