Conservation through Reconciliation in Canada: cultivating a decolonial conservation practice

Authors: Robin Roth*, University of Guelph
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment
Keywords: decolonization, reconciliation, conservation, Indigenous Peoples, political ecology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 46
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Colonial logics have informed the vision and practice of mainstream conservation and helped shape its practice. State-led protected areas have become nearly synonymous with the displacement and marginalization of Indigenous Peoples and can be understood as part of the very fabric of colonialism, used as a means through which colonial and modern states gain and maintain control over Indigenous territory. Moving away from such logics of separation and disconnection towards logics of connection and re-attachment is what drives a movement supporting Indigenous-led conservation in Canada. Through an interrogation of the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership, a growing network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, conservation organizations and agencies, this paper discusses how Indigenous-led conservation in settler-colonial societies marks a shift towards a potential decolonial conservation practice that advances self-determination alongside hopeful pathways for the continuation of life and collectively building an abundant future. Engaging Indigenous scholarship and teachings, I will draw on the work of the Partnership, which weaves together research, virtual and in-person gatherings, capacity building and education in ethical space, to outline what decolonial practice might look like in settler colonial societies and argue for its potential to catalyze transformative change. I will also identify the persistent challenges and potential barriers to such change.

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