General Meeting – Thursday, October 21, 7 PM | via Zoom | Caitlin Stockwell, First Peoples Law LLP

Caitlin is a graduate of UVic's Faculty of Law and the Environmental Law Centre's intensive clinic program. She currently works for and with indigenous people across Canada at "First People's Law." Her job there is to advance indigenous laws and governance and inherent and constitutionally protected rights. She is described by Calvin Sandborn, the head of UVic's Environmental Law Centre, as a "brilliant, young environmentally-minded lawyer."

In the not-so-distant past, National Parks and protected areas in Canada have been used to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their land and limit their ability to exercise their inherent rights. Currently, many Crown-protected areas have limited Indigenous involvement and continue to restrict activities with impacts on Indigenous Nations’ rights and responsibilities. Canadian governments must respect the authority of Indigenous governments to decide how the land and water in their territories are managed to achieve conservation and cultural objectives, and acknowledge the role of Indigenous Knowledge in addressing conservation- and protection-related challenges. This is where Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas come in. Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) is an umbrella term for a range of Indigenous-lead protected area initiatives. As a common feature of IPCAs, Indigenous governments have the primary role in identifying and protecting the land base and waters in accordance with their Indigenous laws while preserving and managing continued access for harvesting rights and cultural practices. 

This presentation provided a brief background on the colonial history of Parks in Canada and discussed examples of Indigenous lead IPCAs across Canada that are being used to centre Indigenous laws, governance, and knowledge systems while achieving conservation objectives. The presentation also addressed how IPCAs can help achieve biodiversity conservation and healthier ecosystems, which in turn benefit all Canadians.