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How does an indigenous perspective differ from that of settlers in relation to the land?

Being an Indigenous Person, especially at this time and our perspective on protected spaces and ensuring that there is this sustainability there from Mother Nature that is in balance. That is just something that is ingrained in us as Indigenous People. It is something that Indigenous People know.  

Today, there is a lot more talk about Indigenous perspectives (in relation to protected spaces) and ensuring that those Indigenous perspectives are being talked about and incorporated into policy, procedures and projects moving forward especially when you talk about climate change. 

We (Indigenous People) are so connected to the environment (in feeling) it’s just something that’s been there. 

Our stories and prophecies need to be looked at and shared with the Non-Indigenous community, especially when we (society) are looking and climate change, adaptation and mitigation and what those effects are. 

We need to stop and reconnect with nature and Mother Earth and be supported in doing that. 

In fact, that is one of our responsibilities (in our teachings as Indigenous People) and one of the gifts that were given to us (from the Creator) is the connection to the environment and how we share that knowledge with the rest of the world. 

The Indigenous perspective is now being asked for (in environmental work). It’s being realized that it is a very important, if not the most important piece of this (climate change) puzzle moving forward.

Why is “land relationship planning” a better term than “land use”?

We need to redefine our thinking because we have our minds wrapped around certain terminology. For instance, land use planning is a term that is used by every municipality and community. 

However, the word “use” is a derogatory term. Instead of calling it “land use”, Indigenous Elders suggest re-terming that and call it land relationship planning. If we do that, than we start to think about our interaction with the environment as a relationship and how we sustain each other. 

This way, we aren’t just “using” the land. With those simple changes in terminology allows people to start to think differently.

By using a term such as “land use” people have a predetermined definition of what’s that supposed to be. It is really hard to get out of that way of thinking but if you change the terminology a little bit people can learn something rather than “unlearn” something. 

We need a "revolution" in how we look at land. Why is that?

Our Elders have stated that we’ve stopped (post colonization) looking at the environment and what sustains us as a community. As a society, we started to look at the environment as a commodity. 

The relationship between humans and the environment changed. We’re not listening to what nature is telling us (and how to prepare) and we need to go back into the bush and listen.  

In the day and age we are in right now, everything is so fast paced that we don’t have time to sit and listen. However, that is critical and key in being able to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We need to take our time and really listen to our teachers which are the natural environment. 

Here is a story about an Indigenous hunter from Manitoba had to say.

"In 2009, he was out hunting and he came across these beavers building a great, big dam (over 3 feet high). He couldn’t understand why the beavers were building such a high dam. In that spring, there was a major flood in Manitoba. 

At the time the hunter never connected the beaver dam and the flood together.

A few years later, he witnessed more beavers building great, big dams. Again, he couldn’t understand why. That spring, there was another major flood and that’s where he made the connection between the beavers and the dams they were making. The beavers knew that a flood was coming and they were preparing themselves."

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How does “two eyed seeing” come into play in respectful reciprocal relationships?

To be able to build those respectful and reciprocal relationships (and trust). Being able to have the Indigenous perspective and the understanding of what that is and the western science perspective and the understanding (of what that is). To move forward and make real progress, it is necessary to understand both perspectives and how to bring them together. 

Just because there is a line on a map it doesn’t mean that a bird won’t fly over that line to get a worm that’s going to feed its family.

How does an Indigenous Person or Organization find ways to communicate indigenous perspectives to non-indigenous folks?

When trying to connect and articulate the Indigenous perspective, (with regards to climate change) to someone who is not indigenous and has no idea about what that perspective looks like. It’s now trying to find a way to communicate that perspective that makes sense to them.

It’s being able to identify a commonality with the Non Indigenous person and come up with analogies that make sense to them. On how we feel and see things and those observations (about climate change for example) moving forward.  

What are the 7 Fires "prophecies"? How could indigenous prophecies differ from typical religious prophecies?

It talks about the journey (and milestones), for Indigenous People that have led us to what we’re dealing with now. Right now, in our (Indigenous Prophecy) we are the 7th fire and a “fork in the road” and that fork will determine if the 8th fire is lit (or not).

The first fork represents the path that we’re going down right now. It’s all technology and we’re not thinking about the environment. We’ve become very destructive and killing what sustains us (which is the earth). 

The other side of that is we start to realize what really sustains us and we start to become reconnected with the environment and nature and start to listen to our original teachers which are those beings in nature. It’s the animals, it’s the four legged, it’s the swimmers, the flyers (birds), the trees, and the plants. 

We really start to reconnect and observe and listen to what they’re telling us what the future looks like and how to proceed. That’s what lights the 8th fire which is connecting to the Indigenous people.

What does “All My Relations” mean?

We are conditioned to think that we are (as human beings) the be all, end all of this earth that we live on. This is far from being true. Indigenous People have their own creation stories and teachings.

If you take a look from around the world, Indigenous People have the same values. We are the babies of this earth. Everything else was here before us and will continue to be here after we are all gone. That is what all our relations is. We are all related to everybody and everything. 

We are all connected in some way, shape or form be it the wind ones, they are our relatives, they have their teachings, they have the responsibilities. The tree and plant species, the four legged, all the animals, the swimmers. Those are all of our relations.

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What does "two eyed seeing" mean? How does this apply to climate change? 

"Two Eyed Seeing is a philosophy that has been termed by a Mi’kmaw community member in Nova Scotia and talks about the importance of being able to understand both sides. Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall (Eskasoni, Nova Scotia – Traditional Territory of Mi’kma’ki) coined the English phrase “Two-Eyed Seeing” many years ago for a guiding principle found in Mi’kmaq Knowledge as reflected in the language. 

On one side you have the Indigenous side where we have that connection to the land. We have tradition and values that are ingrained in us in being able to move forward and adapting and mitigating climate change through a different lens. 

On the other side there is the European and Western Science side that has some really good information and helps to identify adaptation and mitigation measures moving forward. If you take both of those views and you put them together you get a robust sense of what’s happening and how to move forward in a good way." 

What is "traditional knowledge"? Which can help climate change adaptation? 

If we put those two (sides) together and look at the traditional ecological knowledge which are the observations and the knowledge that the community members pooled within their space, their communities and the stories that they heard from generations and generations about what those (climate) changes are.

To be able to put that together with the (scientific) modeling and not have them separate, that’s how we developed our framework for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

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What does the term "Everything stems from the land" mean?

The commonality is that everything stems from the land. It’s being able to communicate it to people that they understand that everything that is provided for them and sustains them (although they go to a store to get it) ultimately comes from the land (at some point). All those (food) origins come from the land. 

To be able to understand that moving forward, especially when you’re looking at climate change (and how things work) and how we should be reconnecting with the land and what sustains us. To be able to understand what these changes in climate (and the effects) are going to be and how we adapt and mitigate. 

It’s so important to be able to observe what’s going on and not just “run tests” much like we do with the scientific stuff where we have these models that we run things through and sort of “guesstimate” what’s going to happen. 

If we can stop and listen to the land and observe what the changes of the land are, they are actually giving us signs and what we should actually be doing and preparing for.  More importantly, how to prepare for (climate) changes moving forward.

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