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Exploring Ways to Bring Together Indigenous & Western Knowledge Systems for Coastal &Ocean Observing

In early 2021, The Atlantic Regional Association of the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System, or CIOOS Atlantic, hosted a three-part Discussion Series to learn where CIOOS Atlantic’s goals may align with Indigenous People and organizations and how CIOOS Atlantic could collaborate to advance shared ocean observing goals. COINAtlantic has a close working relationship with CIOOS Atlantic and supported the development and delivery of this series.


CIOOS Atlantic is committed to engaging meaningfully and respectfully with Indigenous Peoples and organizations in the development of its online data platform. This Series brought together individuals who are stewards of Indigenous data and work with coastal and ocean observations to learn about approaches to maintaining Indigenous control and ownership of digital information, expand networks, and discuss opportunities for collaboratively developing approaches to exchange coastal and ocean data and information.


CIOOS Atlantic produced a Literature Review, Summary, and presentation that look at case studies where Indigenous knowledge was digitized, what factors enabled successful outcomes, and the inherent risks and limitations involved in the digitization of Indigenous knowledge.


The three events and speakers included:


Discussion 1. Elders Gathering, Observing Coasts and Oceans


Guest speakers:

  • Catherine Martin, Director of Indigenous Community Engagement, Dalhousie University

  • Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall

  • Maliseet Elder Edward Perley


Discussion 2. Digitizing Indigenous Knowledge: Rights and Data Sharing


Guest speakers discussed the legal, ethical and value considerations that surround digitizing and sharing Indigenous knowledge and data. Guest speakers shared their own experiences with initiatives that have digitized Indigenous Knowledge and the approaches used to maintain Indigenous ownership and control.


Guest speakers:

  • Stephanie Russo Carroll, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Public Health and Associate Director for the Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona

  • Christine McCrae, Executive Director, Native Land Digital (Native-Land.ca)

  • Joel Heath, Executive Director, Arctic Eider Society (arcticeider.com; siku.org)

  • Ken Paul, Fisheries Negotiations and Research, Wolastoqey Nation of New Brunswick


Discussion 3. Collaborations


Guest presenters shared regional, national and international success stories about coastal and ocean knowledge and data collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and organizations.


Guest Speakers:

  • Pieter Romer, Indigenous Community Liaison, Ocean Networks Canada.

  • Dr. Jane Anderson, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Museum Studies, New York University, Co-Director, ENRICH, Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation - Coordinating Hub and Maui Hudson, Director, Associate Professor, Te Mata Punenga o Te Kotahi (Te Kotahi Research Institute), Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato (The University of Waikato); Co-Director, ENRICH, Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation - Coordinating Hub.

  • Apoqnmatulti'k (Mi'kmaw: "we help each other"), Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, Mi’kmaw Conservation Group, Marine Institute of Natural and Academic Science, Ocean Tracking Network, Acadia University, Dalhousie University, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Watch all three recorded events on the CIOOS Atlantic YouTube Channel. Recordings have been made available for educational purposes only.