The Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership (CRP), of which Plenty Canada is a key partner, is an Indigenous-led network that brings together a diverse range of partners to advance Indigenous-led conservation and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) across Turtle Island. The partnership aims to transform the conservation sector by centring Indigenous leadership, laws, rights, responsibilities, and knowledge in the spirit of reconciliation and decolonisation.
We are honoured to have Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall sit on the partnership’s Elder’s Lodge, helping to ensure that our collaborative work is ethical, authentic, equitable and sacred. He is a beloved leader and knowledge-keeper who has championed the concept of Etuaptmumk or ‘Two-Eyed Seeing’, a concept that has greatly influenced many sectors including health and conservation, and that serves as a guiding principle for our collective work.
Two-Eyed Seeing, according to Elder Albert, refers to:
“Learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of western knowledges and ways of knowing – and learning to use both of these eyes together for the benefit of all.”
His teachings have deeply influenced how we aim to conduct research and how we seek to communicate the work being done throughout the partnership. Many of our research projects start with Indigenous theory and observation, include opportunities for inter-generational knowledge sharing, and incorporate western science methods such as plant identification, community mapping exercises (transect walks), and key informant interviews. We also seek to practice oral and written storytelling as a key means to share information and resources about Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas to amplify Indigenous-led conservation.
Elder Albert reminds us that learning to see with both eyes comes with the responsibility to act on what we come to understand. With that guidance, we are hosting several sharing circles, facilitating relationship-building, and gathering more knowledge and insights to inform change in the conservation sector. We have made a commitment to influence conservation policy and practice within Crown government agencies and organisations as well as environmental organisations.
We wished to honour and share our gratitude to Elder Albert for his guidance, strong spirit, and significant contributions to the Indigenous-led conservation movement as well as the collaborative work of the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership. So, on October 1, 2021, members of the Elder’s Lodge and Leadership Circle, including Elder Marilyn Capreol, Elder Larry McDermott (executive director of Plenty Canada), Holy Walking Woman Paulette Fox, Lisa Young, and myself traveled to Elder Albert’s territory on Unama’ki for a gathering; the first time we were able to gather was before the COVID pandemic.
Elder Stephen Augustine welcomed us into his home and territory. He led a ceremony in honour and celebration of Elder Albert where each member of the Elder’s Lodge shared teachings from their respective territories and life journeys. All members of the circle were invited to reflect and share their heartfelt appreciation for Elder Albert’s wisdom, guidance, and love.
We are forever grateful for Elder Albert’s friendship, leadership, and strength as he continues to guide our thinking and challenges us to take active steps towards healing and protecting Mother Earth for the benefit of all.
— Robin Roth
Principal Investigator and Leadership Circle Member
Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership