Bridges between science and traditional knowledge

Image credit: Patrick Tommaso for Unsplash

guest blog. During the latest edition of C2 Montreal, President of the Association of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador, Jesselyn Piccard, shared his vision of the connections that will be created between the business world and the world of First Nations. According to him, among the tools that we must make available, it is important to restore the links between today’s science and the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples.

That is why when we talk about partnerships, mega projects and the exploitation of natural resources, whether in forests, energy or mining, we cannot ignore the importance of consulting First Nations … and knowing them. As President Pickard said, “What we are looking for is to be development partners. This is what we see more and more in the mining sector, where we find many agreements – called ramifications and benefits – between developers and indigenous communities.”

“Initially, these agreements included terms of employment, training, and contracts,” he adds. Today, these agreements contain provisions for profit-sharing and, increasingly, direct community participation in the venture as a partner. This model should extend to all economic sectors.”

In recent years, the existence of indigenous traditional knowledge which includes a great deal of knowledge that has been accumulated and passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years has been increasingly recognized. President Picard also emphasized the fact that many cities, businesses and states have followed suit and included indigenous peoples in identifying and setting priorities and strategies for the development and use of their lands, territories and other resources.

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increase cooperation

Apart from mining or forestry projects in which we find more and more cooperation and integration in consultation with first peoples regarding the territory and their different knowledge, there are other emerging sectors that benefit from this ancestral knowledge, whether in medicinal plants and natural health with companies and private universities or in the field of manufacturing Food, such as cooperation with Mi’gmaq Association and Maliseet Fisheries Management which contribute by bringing together the Mi’kmaq nation of Gespeg, Mi’kmaq of Gesgapegiag and Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First the nation through which they incorporated their ancestral knowledge as well as diversified fishing and aquaculture activities aquatic. Together, they also co-created Salaweg, an impressive algae-based food processor. The combination of their knowledge allowed them to find a way to develop algae cultivation using an integrated, sustainable and collaborative management method.

The goal of these three communities and their association is to be able to develop untapped biomass and diversify the exploitation of marine resources in the Gaspé and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions. Additionally, in addition to contributing to job creation and economic benefits to their communities, Slough is keen to reinvest its profits in support of the latter who are also engaged in their pursuit of their mission of sustainable management of their marine resources.

Since the implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in 2012, more and more promising studies and projects undertaken in collaboration with indigenous peoples testify to their beneficial contributions, whether environmental or economic.

Despite the fact that traditional knowledge and Western knowledge can complement each other, knowledge of values ​​and standards does not fit easily into scientific data sets.

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Humans and their environment

Often times from a scientific perspective, when we look at the environment, humans are above their ecosystem. Among the First Nations, our ways of doing and thinking are based on a holistic approach, and man is an integral part of his environment. It is on a par with animals, plants and the ecosystem. We do not seek understanding in order to better manage and control our surroundings, but to integrate ourselves into it, our philosophy is completely opposite.

As a member of First Nations, like many other Indigenous entrepreneurs, my mission is to contribute to the protection of Mother Earth. Through our business models, we naturally incorporate this millennial approach that has been handed down to us and would like to share this way of seeing our environment. If you think about it, with all these environmental challenges and planets looming on our horizons, it’s not actually the planet that is in danger, because it will survive, but we, dear humans, are.

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