Last month I had the honour of attending the Yata Kati Traditional Knowledge Conference in Yellowknife. If you were there, we were the ones interviewing people on their thoughts about the conference and what traditional knowledge means to them. Stay tuned for a video which brings together clips from these interviews.
There were many insightful speakers at the conference whose work and words had a strong impact on how I view my work. Here are some of my key take-away points:
Dr. Suzanne Stewart spoke about her work on indigenous education and mental health. One of Suzanne’s quotes that stuck with me was that, to her, “indigenous knowledge is spiritual. It's about what you learn from having your feet on the ground.”
Dr. George Dei spoke about his work in the areas of anti-racism education, indigenous knowledges and anti-colonial thought. George’s assertion that “We need to challenge an insistence on a grand narrative about indigeneity” has made me reflect on the work I do. Working with indigenous communities on traditional land use studies (often related to natural resource development), there is an inherent bias in the focus of my work on the importance of the harvesting and land use for the communities we work with. I am aware, however, that I need to take steps to avoid unconsciously perpetuating grand narratives and to recognize and celebrate the myriad “indigeneities” that are present in each of the communities I work in.