The Métis Nation has unique knowledge and understandings to support healthy and thriving ecosystems. The relationship between the Métis Nation and their traditional lands defines what it means to be Métis. The health of the land is directly connected to the health and wellbeing of the people. As the Métis well know, conservation of biological diversity, sustainable development and protection of vulnerable ecosystems and species ensures the conservation of Métis Nation cultural identity, ecosystem health and addresses increasing food security issues.

Pathway to Canada Target 1

Pathway to Canada Target 1

In the spirit and practice of reconciliation, Canada conserves its natural diversity in interconnected networks of protected and conserved areas for the enduring benefit of nature and future generations, through collective efforts in the Pathway to Canada Target 1 and beyond.

Pathway to Canada Target 1 website:

Canada’s Conservation Vision: A Report of the National Advisory Panel

The two great environmental challenges of our time–biodiversity loss and climate change—are interconnected, and they require urgent action. The escalating global loss of biodiversity due to destruction of habitats and impacts of climate change threatens the viability of Earth’s ecosystems and thereby the ecosystem services that support all life. 


Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)

“IPCA” is the term chosen by Indigenous Circle of Experts to describe a variety of land protection initiatives in the Canadian context. Examples include Tribal Parks, Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, Indigenous Protected Areas, and Indigenous conserved areas.

Read more about IPCA:

We Rise Together

Since time immemorial, Indigenous Peoples in Canada have been diligent and ingenious cultivators of biological diversity through advanced economic practices that were founded on natural law. Indigenous economies followed Indigenous worldviews, which understand that human systems are a part of, and must remain in balance with, ecosystems. The outcome and effect of these world views and economic practices was abundant, thriving biological diversity.


A Solutions Bundle for All

We envision a future in Canada where ecosystems are thriving in balance with resilient communities and Indigenous Peoples (First  Nations, Métis, and Inuit). This is a change in mindset from past conservation practices, where Indigenous Peoples in particular have been excluded, causing harm to both land and people.

Guardians Program

Guardians Program

 In the 2017 Budget, the Government of Canada announced $25 million over four years to support an Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program. This program will provide Indigenous Peoples with greater opportunity to exercise responsibility in stewardship of their traditional lands, waters, and ice.

The Pilot Program supports Indigenous rights and responsibilities in protecting and conserving ecosystems, developing and maintaining sustainable economies, and continuing the profound connections between Canadian landscape and Indigenous culture.

The Pilot Program will inform a long-term approach for a potential National Indigenous Guardians Network.

Métis Guardians Programs

This pilot program funds Métis Nations to reconnect with the lands and waters of their traditional territories. It does this through on-the-ground, community-based stewardship initiatives.

The Métis portion of the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program is governed through the Métis National Council’s (MNC) National Environmental Working Group. The working group is made up of representatives of the Governing Members including the elected officials mandated to oversee environment and senior officials.

The working group works with Environment and Climate Change Canada to set:

  • funding priorities
  • assessment criteria
  • application and selection processes
  • program evaluation methods, measurement, and timelines

Overview of Métis funding process 2019

As requested by the working group, the funding process for the Métis portion was a non-competitive proposal application process. The Métis Governing Members were invited to submit proposals for funding under the Pilot Program. Proposals were reviewed using the following criteria:

  • Economic opportunities and training
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Métis engagement in the protection of land and waters
  • Cultural revitalization and management
  • Community capacity building and engagement

Read more about Guardians Program:

Convention on Biological Diversity

Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired by the world community’s growing commitment to sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step forward in three key areas: conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

In 2020 the Convention on Biological Diversity will adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework as a stepping stone towards the 2050 Vision of “”Living in harmony with nature”. In its decision 14/34 the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a comprehensive and participatory process for the preparation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The Métis Nation provides input on Canada’s approach to positions on specific issues of interest at international meetings related to conservation and biodiversity, for example, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on international Trade in Endangered Species and related working groups.

The Métis Nation has representation on Canadian delegation at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversityto ensure that Métis perspectives are voiced in international dialogues.

The Métis Nation participates in the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) meetings. Article 25 of the Convention on Biological Diversity establishes an open-ended intergovernmental scientific advisory body known as SBSTTA to provide the Conference of the Parties (COP) and, as appropriate, its other subsidiary bodies, with timely advice relating to the implementation of the Convention. As a subsidiary body of the COP, SBSTTA is to report regularly to the COP on all aspects of its work. Multidisciplinary and open to participation by all Parties, SBSTTA comprises government representatives competent in the relevant field of expertise. Its functions include: providing assessments of the status of biological diversity; providing assessments of the types of measures taken in accordance with the provisions of the Convention; and responding to questions that the COP may put to the body.

SBSTTA has met 21 times to date and produced a total of 223 recommendations to the Conference of the Parties, some of which have been endorsed in full by the latter. Such endorsement makes these recommendations de facto decisions of the Conference of the Parties. Parts of other recommendations have also been endorsed, and many others have been taken up in modified form.

Read more about Convention on Biological Diversity:

Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Species at Risk Act (SARA)

The purposes of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are to prevent wildlife species in Canada from disappearing, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated (no longer exist in the wild in Canada), endangered, or threatened as a result of human activity, and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened. A series of measures applicable across Canada provides the means to accomplish these goals. Some of these measures establish how governments, organizations, and individuals in Canada work together, while others implement a species assessment process to ensure the protection and recovery of species. Some measures provide for sanctions for offences under SARA.

SARA also provides for the issuing of permits or the conclusion of agreements for certain scientific or educational activities and for the implementation of special emergency measures.

The adoption of the Species at Risk Act in 2002 completed the National Strategy for the Protection of Species at Risk. Two other components preceded this Act: the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk signed in 1996, and the Habitat Stewardship Program established in 2000. Through these initiatives, Canada is making its commitment under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity a reality.

SARA can affect you if a species at risk is found at any time throughout the year on a property in which you have an interest. To learn about the species’ critical habitat, consult the SARA Public Registry. You can also contact the specialists at Environment and Climate Change Canada or Fisheries and Oceans Canada or provincial or territorial authorities to find out how to comply with the Species at Risk Act.

The Métis Nation is funded for nominal participation in the implementation of the Species At Risk Act (SARA). The Métis have one delegate who participates in the National Aboriginal Council of Species at Risk (NACOSAR) which has a statutory mandate to bring the perspectives of the Aboriginal peoples. There are four First Nations representatives and one Inuit representative on NACOSAR. The Species at Risk Act (SARA) recognizes the essential role of Indigenous Peoples of Canada in the conservation of wildlife.

The act calls for the creation of the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR) to:

  • advise the Minister on implementing the administration of the act
  • provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council

Currently, the Métis Nation is not funded for meaningful participation in species at risk management. The legislation calls for Indigenous voices in the identification, management and reporting of vulnerable species. The Métis Nation governing members have received funding from time to time to give input on particular species identified by SARA authorities as “at risk”. The Métis Nation is seeking to establish mechanisms which allow for culturally important species and habitats to be identified and managed with the inclusion of Métis voices. The Métis Nation has yet been unsuccessful in obtaining section 9 agreements or securing a Métis Nation specific table to advise on the approp9riate implementation of SARA. The National Environment Committee (NEC) provides, as much as possible, advice and feedback with regards to community engagement activities related to SAR and SARA.

The Métis Nation does not hold a seat on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) which is another mechanism for community engagement under SARA. The Métis Nation does through nominate one representative for consideration by the Minister of the Environment to the Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee of COSEWIC.COSEWIC is an independent advisory panel to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada that meets twice a year to assess the status of wildlife species at risk of extinction. Members are wildlife biology experts from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector responsible for designating wildlife species in danger of disappearing from Canada. As such, the Métis Nation does not yet have a mechanism for advising the Minister of Environment, nor the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment on the implementation of species at risk management.

 Pan Canadian Framework on Species At Risk:

Climate Change

The Métis Nation is uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Northern Métis communities are particularly vulnerable due to their remoteness, geographic location, ongoing social and economic challenges, and reliance on traditional food sources. The Métis Nation is working to further support its citizens in developing adaptation and mitigation strategies that support resilient and healthy citizens. 

The Pan Canadian Framework, a national framework developed in partnership with provinces and territories, is focused on growing the economy while reducing emissions and building adaptation to the changing climate. Although the Pan Canadian Framework does not recognize Indigenous authorities, Canada has committed to an ongoing process of engagement with the Métis Nation that is designed on a nation to nation, government to government basis. The federal ongoing process is a means by which the Métis Nation can build capacity and to leverage provincial government engagement.

There is a core understanding that there must be capacity within the Métis National Council and Governing Members in order to ensure meaningful Métis Nation engagement, and that the Governing Members will engage with the Government of Canada on a bilateral basis where desired and on a multilateral basis with the Métis National Council to ensure equity and fairness across the Métis Nation. The Métis National Council carries the burden of providing national policy advise while the Governing Members are committed to implementation of citizen engagement and local policy and governance initiatives.

Pan Canadian Framework

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change presented here is our collective plan to grow our economy while reducing emissions and building resilience to adapt to a changing climate. It will help us transition to a strong, diverse and competitive economy; foster job creation, with new technologies and exports; and provide a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.

ECCC’s Canada in a Changing Climate Report

This report is about how and why Canada’s climate has changed and what changes are projected for the future. Led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, it is the first report to be released as part of Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action.

From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate

Through a primarily regional approach, this assessment discusses current and future risks and opportunities that climate change presents to Canada, with a focus on human and managed systems. It is based on a critical analysis of existing knowledge, drawn from the published scientific and technical literature and from expert knowledge. The current state of understanding is presented, and key knowledge gaps are identified.

Climate Change and Health

Canada is warming at twice the rate of the global average and the North is warming at rates that could reflect a 10 degree increase by 2080. Even with mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, Canada is locked into greater warming and solution based and system wide adaptation is necessary.

Métis people are at greater health risk and suffer disproportionately from a wide range of preventable diseases and conditions. Social and environmental determinants such as low income and poverty, food insecurity, geography (many Métis live in more rural and remote areas in Canada), and the lack of access to essential services and supports, exacerbate known health risks and further compromise Métis Nation health outcomes.

Climate change threatens to further increase health risks (including physical, mental, spiritual and cultural) and the overall well-being of the Métis people. Currently, the Métis Nation is working on collecting information/data related to Métis specific health impacts of climate change as Métis Nation communities are at greater risk of being negatively impacted by climate-driven environmental changes such as flooding, forest fires, and extreme weather events.

Health Canada: Climate change and health: Health effects

Governments, industries, communities and individuals are working to reduce greenhouse emissions. At the same time, there are a variety of actions which can be taken to help minimize the risks to health.

World Health Organization: Climate change and health

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: Climate Change Health

CAPE is committed to educating the public and decision-makers about the adverse health impacts associated with climate change. 

Health Canada: Health Adapt Program

The HealthADAPT Program supports the human health and well-being objectives of the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change is a new international, multi-disciplinary research collaboration between academic institutions and practitioners across the world. It is being established to track the different aspects of the relationship between health and climate change.

Extreme Events

Canada has endured at least one major disaster every year since the Saguenay River flood in 1996, the Red River flood in 1997, and the Ice Storm in Eastern Canada in 1998. The frequency and scale of these disasters has accelerated even more quickly in the past decade as seen by events such as the 2011 prairie floods, the 2011 Slave Lake Fire, the 2013 Calgary Flood, the 2013 Toronto Urban Flood, the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, the 2017 British Columbia Fire season, the flooding in the Ottawa valley as well as 6 tornadoes touching down in 2018. These events cost billions in damages and displaced hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Since 2008, there have been 195 major disasters which have caused tens of billions of dollars in direct damage and affected hundreds of thousands of people.

Flooding now causes over $1 billion in damage to homes, property, and infrastructure annually. Fire protection costs have increased from $500 million to $1 billion in the last decade. This new normal is due, in part, to the changing climate, as well as historic decisions to settle in high-risk areas. Survivors of disaster experience significantly elevated rates of post-traumatic stress, depression, suicide, and domestic violence. These impacts tend to disproportionately strike segments of the population already at elevated risk of marginalization and violence, such as women, seniors, the poor, and Indigenous Peoples.

The Métis Nation is currently seeking funding to ensure the needs of Métis citizens and communities are heard and Métis communities are engaged in Emergency Management initiatives in preparation of and in response to major climate events.

Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation

Through a primarily regional approach, this assessment discusses current and future risks and opportunities that climate change presents to Canada, with a focus on human and managed systems. It is based on a critical analysis of existing knowledge, drawn from the published scientific and technical literature and from expert knowledge. The current state of understanding is presented, and key knowledge gaps are identified.

United Nations: Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. It aims for the following outcome:
The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.

Carbon Pricing

Carbon pricing is understood as one more tool available to countries to advance a core value in climate change, that is, the polluter pays. Carbon pricing is a means by which major polluters of carbon are taxed and the revenue from that taxation is made available to the country in order to offset the increased costs arising from climate impacts.

The federal carbon pricing mechanism provides provinces the flexibility to design their own carbon regime. Where provinces or territories do not institute a carbon pricing regime, the federal regime, sometimes called the carbon backstop, will institute a carbon pricing regime and refund the revenues directly to the affected province or territory to determine what can be done. Without a provincial plan, the federal backstop will return the major portion back to the citizens of the province by way of rebate on their income tax. A small amount of funds are set aside for community-based initiatives, urban initiatives, major institutes (hospitals, schools, etc) and for Indigenous communities. 

Currently, the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario do not have carbon pricing regimes and the federal backstop applies. The Métis National Council Governing Members are currently accessing a small percentage in order to top up their climate monitoring initiatives. These monies are flowing directly through bilateral agreements to the Governing Members and will be the subject of negotiations to determine the most effective return to Métis citizens and communities in relation to the new impacts of climate change. Future funding envelopes are being designed.

How we’re putting a price on carbon pollution?

Canadian Centre for Climate Services

The Canadian Centre for Climate Services was established to provide Canadians with information and support to consider climate change in their decisions. An understanding of the changing climate is important for a variety of decisions, including managing lands and resources, planning community infrastructure, adapting economic development or preparing for extreme events like forest fire or drought.

CCCS supports a suite of user friendly online climate portals, to ensure that all Canadians have access to the climate information and tools they need.

Canadian Center for Climate Services Website

Canadian Center for Climate Services Website provides users with the access and ability to download Environment and Climate Change Canada’s climate information through an interactive map. Users can also learn about key climate change concepts and explore the Library of Climate Resources to access other information that will support decision-making.

Climate Atlas of Canada

Climate Atlas of Canada combines climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home for Canadians. This tool provides basic climate model and historical data for a more general audience, through maps, graphs, and tables so users can explore local climate projections (e.g., Hot Weather, Cold Weather, Precipitation, Temperature, Agriculture). enables Canadians to access, visualize, and analyze climate data, information, and tools to support adaptation planning. This portal is for informed users like municipal planners and engineers who require access to local climate data, including a range of climate indices (e.g., Maximum Temperature, Cooling degree-days, Summer Days, Freeze-Thaw Cycles, Total Precipitation), and user-defined climate datasets.

CCCS also operates the Climate Services Support Desk to assist Canadians directly should they require assistance in understanding, accessing and using climate information. You can contact the Support Desk by calling 1-833-517-0276 or by filling out the email form online.

CCCS is interested in understanding how it can continue to adapt its products and services to meet the needs of the Métis Nation. Should you have specific feedback or questions concerning CCCS services, communities are encouraged to reach out to the Support Desk.

Environment Impact Assessment

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC)

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) is the Federal body accountable to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Responsible for managing the environmental assessment process for most* projects that may require a federal Environmental Assessment (EA). An EA is aplanning and decision-making tool with the objective to:

  1. 1. minimize or avoid adverse environmental effects before they occur; and
  2. 2. incorporate environmental factors into decision making.

On February 8, 2018, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change tabled Bill C-69, which ia an Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Bill C-69 would repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and replace it with the Impact Assessment Act. Bill C-69 was amended by the House of Commons Standing Committee and then passed Third Reading in the House of Commons in June 2018.

On August 28, 2019, The Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and the Canadian Navigable Waters Act came into force.

Some of the new features and differences of the Impact Assessment Act (as compared to CEAA 2012) are:

  • Broadened scope of assessment (From environmental assessment to impact assessment)
  • Formal legislated planning phase
  • Single federal agency responsible for all federal impact assessments
  • Final decision based on whether adverse effects of a project are in the public interest
  • Greater public participation and transparency in the process
  • Mandatory requirement that Indigenous knowledge be considered and protected when provided as part of the assessment
  • New provisions and processes aimed at advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

The Métis Nation is currently exploring the necessary capacity to ensure meaningful and timely engagement of Métis communities in the determination of impacts and required mitigation where Métis Nation interests in lands, waters and way of life are affected. The Métis Nation made submissions to the expert panels and parliament on the design of this new legislation and is currently looking for mechanisms to ensure sufficient capacity and inclusion of Métis voices in major project development.

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC)

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) Website

Indigenous Participation Under The Impact Assessment Act

On August 28th, 2019, the Impact Assessment Act (IAA), the Physical Activities Regulation andtheInformation and Management of Time Limits Regulationscame into force, repealing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012

Guidance Document on Indigenous Participation

This document provides interim guidance to the public, Indigenous communities and organizations, and proponents on the various means by which Indigenous peoples could participate in consultations on the Impact Assessment Act. This document may change as a result of ongoing engagements with Indigenous peoples and policy work on Indigenous participation, collaboration and cooperation. The guide should be treated as preliminary.   

Funding Opportunities

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) administers the Funding Programs, which support individuals, non-profit organizations and Indigenous groups interested in participating in federal impact assessments and other Agency engagement initiatives and activities.

The IAAC made funding available through a new Indigenous Capacity Support Program to Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations to help develop skills to better participate in the new impact assessment system. 

This funding, provided outside the context of specific project reviews, is intended to support better informed and more meaningful engagement and leadership of Indigenous peoples in consultations on project assessments, regional and strategic initiatives, and policy development.

Priority activities for the fiscal year will include, but are not limited to:

  • Raising awareness and knowledge of environmental assessment and the new Impact Assessment Act and features of the new system in communities
  • Increasing community capacity to participate in environmental assessment and impact assessments, particularly with regards to increasing the ability to identify and relay potential project impacts on Indigenous peoples and their rights.
  • Increasing capacity in regions where major development projects are expected.

The Métis Nation is continually involved in national dialogues with IAAC, and IAAC presented this information to Governing Members during a number of Environment Committee meetings to ensure that they had support in submitting proposals to this funding opportunity.

Métis Nation Knowledge and Knowledge Systems

The Indigenous peoples’ interest in the protection of their knowledge arises from the fact of their deeply rooted cultural relationships with their traditional lands and accompanying desire for self-determination. As Dr. James Anaya eloquently summarizes, the shared goal of Indigenous peoples “is to maintain the cultural integrity and the sacred character of the cultural attributes of the indigenous peoples, apart from any economic considerations. And the second is to protect the interests of indigenous peoples in benefitting economically on an equitable basis from the use of their cultural expressions and traditional knowledge when that use is consistent with the integrity of indigenous culture.” (Keynote address by James Anaya to the 34th Session of the World Intellectual Property Organization Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, 12 June 2017.)

The objective of Indigenous customary law is the protection of culture, ultimately, survival as distinct peoples. Innovation and adaptation are key to survival, as is the continued right of access to traditional lands. Customary laws, practices and traditions are the means by which Indigenous peoples promote and protect themselves against incursions, both historically and today. (Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, [2014] 2 S.C.R. 256.)

In Canada, the inherent rights and those rights protected in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, provide the legal framework for Indigenous peoples to assert their objectives: recognition, jurisdiction, protection and negotiated fair and equitable access and benefit sharing (ABS) in relation to their territories, traditions and knowledge. Discussions on Indigenous peoples’ intellectual property rights in relation to their knowledge are, therefore, contextualized in this legal framework. Reconciliation through Canada’s inclusive governance approach, that is, a nation-to-nation, government-to-government, approach, requires the design of mechanisms affirming meaningful consultation, negotiation and cooperation on subject matters touching custom and tradition. The Indigenous peoples share with Canada the goal of achieving common objectives to progress, shared interests, recognition of sovereignty and the rule of law. International or regional trade agreements that could affect Indigenous rights and knowledge call for the engagement and cooperation of Indigenous peoples.

The value of Indigenous knowledge has been affirmed in several United Nations instruments. In meeting the three pillars of conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing, the Convention on Biological Diversity in Article 8(j) underscores the importance of respecting, preserving and maintaining Indigenous knowledge, innovations and practices embodied in traditional lifestyles, and encouraging equitable sharing of benefits from its use. The link between access to knowledge and promulgation of culture is acknowledged in the preamble and Article 10(c), which commits parties to protecting and encouraging ongoing customary use in accordance with customary practice. (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (or the TRIPS Agreement or TRIPS), article 18.16. ) The Nagoya Protocol further notes the inseparable nature of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources (TKAGR) and the ultimate wisdom of conservation, which arises from this age-old interdependence.

Most recently, in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the UN Declaration), we find the explicit recognition that the right to maintain, control, protect and develop such cultural heritage and knowledge systems rests with Indigenous peoples, naturally occurring as an extension of their right of self-determination and authority over their internal and local affairs. Canada acknowledges this right and commits to taking the necessary effective measures to protect the exercise of this right, having fully committed to adopting the UN Declaration without reservation.

In the trade context, Canada has acknowledged the unique intellectual property aspects of TKAGR and has undertaken steps toward building a greater understanding of these properties. (Public Statement by Minister Carolyn Bennett at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 10, 2016, New York, available online at: Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is currently before Parliament.)

As Canada embraces climate change and advances itself as a competitive global leader in innovation and green economies, Indigenous peoples have sought, not to be victims of climate change, but leaders in innovation and the economy, in adaptation and mitigation. Indigenous knowledge is at the core of this leadership, for both Canada and the Indigenous peoples. Fostering creativity and access to ideas must be accompanied by protection and opportunity, and in the context of Canada’s relationship with the Indigenous peoples, permeated in human rights perspectives. Canada’s commitment to fully implement the UN Declaration cements this commitment.

Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (the UNFCCC) Paris Agreement have recently affirmed their commitment to “strengthen knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts of … indigenous peoples related to addressing and responding to climate change”.  (UNFCCC, “Introduction to the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, available online at:  Canada’s First Ministers on climate change agreed to strengthen collaboration with Indigenous peoples “based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.” Canada has committed, along with several provinces, to the full implementation of the UN Declaration which provides, amongst other things, for the protection of the intellectual property of the Indigenous peoples and the recognition of Indigenous ownership of their intellectual property, which includes their traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and that specific body of traditional knowledge that is related to genetic resources.

The issue of legal protection has been discussed in many international fora including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the work of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) and numerous Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) mechanisms, has been the subject of twenty years or more of discussion and research within Canada and amongst the

Indigenous peoples. It is also generally accepted that governments need to address the political implications of intellectual property rights which adhere to Indigenous knowledge.6The question appears to be “how” not “if” it should be done.

The Métis National Council has raised the issue of effective protections for their traditional knowledge in several domestic and international contexts. In 1998, the MNC participated in a federal roundtable with several national Indigenous organizations and representatives of Indigenous governments where the need for the legal protection of traditional knowledge was a key message. Legal protection is a long-standing commitment by Canada and an ongoing expectation of the Indigenous peoples. The MNC submission to Canada on its climate change sets out the core principles of the Métis Nation in terms of engagement with Métis Nation Knowledge and Knowledge Systems. The question appears to be “how” not “if” it should be done.

What is the subject matter of Métis Nation Knowledge?

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (1996) has described indigenous knowledge as “oral culture in the form of stories and myths, coded and organized by knowledge systems for interpreting information and guiding action…a dual purpose to manage lands and resources and to affirm and reinforce one’s relationship to the earth and its inhabitants.” Métis Nation knowledge can be defined in holistic terms, that is knowledge rooted in ancestral knowledge of the skills and behaviours that allowed the Métis to thrive on their lands, while retaining the flexibility necessary to continuously adapt to current conditions. Métis Nation knowledge, which includes traditional knowledge may encompass knowledge passed down over generations and arising from the experience and application of unique cultural teachings in living a traditional lifestyle. There is no agreed consensus on the definition of what constitutes Indigenous knowledge and the international and national dialogue has been focused on “traditional knowledge.” The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is operating from several working definitions of what constitutes traditional knowledge in its effort to develop a consensus approach to protection of Indigenous knowledge. The proposed definition of “traditional knowledge” is set out in the glossary of terms,12 currently under review: “Traditional knowledge,” as a broad description of subject matter, generally includes the intellectual and intangible cultural heritage, practices and knowledge systems of traditional communities, including indigenous and local communities (traditional knowledge in a general sense or lato sensu). In other words, traditional knowledge in a general sense embraces the content of knowledge itself as well as traditional cultural expressions, including distinctive signs and symbols associated with traditional knowledge.(See: international debates, “traditional knowledge” in the narrow sense refers to knowledge as such, in particular the knowledge resulting from intellectual activity in a traditional context, and includes know-how, practices, skills, and innovations. Traditional knowledge can be found in a wide variety of contexts, including: agricultural knowledge; scientific knowledge; technical knowledge; ecological knowledge; medicinal knowledge, including related medicines and remedies; and biodiversity-related knowledge, etc.13 (See: Métis Nation knowledge, therefore, could be defined as that knowledge arising from the traditional context, that is the knowledge arising from the practice of Métis Nation traditions. There are identified categories of significance in considering Indigenous knowledge, including secret, sacred and shared knowledge. The WIPO Glossary of Terms14 provides the following definitions worth considering: “Sacred” refers to “any expression of traditional knowledge that symbolizes or pertains to religious and spiritual beliefs, practices or customs. It is used as the opposite of profane or secular, the extreme forms of which are commercially exploited forms of traditional knowledge.” Sacred traditional knowledge refers to the traditional knowledge which includes religious and spiritual elements, such as totems, special ceremonies, sacred objects, sacred knowledge, prayers, chants, and performances and also sacred symbols, and also refers to sacred traditional knowledge associated with sacred species of plants, animals, microorganisms, minerals, and refers to sacred sites. Whether traditional knowledge is sacred or not depends on whether it has sacred significance to the relevant community. Much sacred traditional knowledge is by definition not commercialized, but some sacred objects and sites are being commercialized by religious, faith-based and spiritual communities themselves, or by outsiders to these, and for different purposes. “Sacred-secret” traditional knowledge and cultural expressions have a secret or sacred significance according to the customary law and practices of their traditional owners. (See: Pacific Regional Framework for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture, 2002, Part I (4)) Shared traditional knowledge is understood as Indigenous knowledge that may be shared by one or more Indigenous peoples or communities. This is an area that requires substantial discussion at the international, national and local level. The idea of shared cultural knowledge may be of significance to the Métis Nation given Métis Nation cultural history is historically linked to other Indigenous peoples, while maintaining cultural distinctiveness. Additionally, the intermarriage of Indigenous peoples, and the sharing of knowledge and culture in children of such a marriage, for example, might have important aspects for consideration. In some legal fields, shared knowledge is defined as “narrowly diffused”, suggesting less clear paths to ownership and links to particular cultural traditions and pointing toward joint or shared interests as between Indigenous peoples.

Rationale for Recognition and Protection of Métis Nation Knowledge Systems

As with other Indigenous peoples, the Métis Nation has undergone profound disruptions as a result of the colonial experience. The dispossession of Métis Nation traditional lands and the resulting interference with the relationships, spiritual, economic and cultural, to the lands, resources, plants, animals, birds and fish, has caused significant trauma to that fundamental cultural relationship and the expression of culture and tradition intimately linked to that relationship. The Indian Residential Schools and the Métis Residential School policies which snatched Métis children from their families, communities and cultures, have meant a loss of Michif language and other Indigenous language transference and caused disruption in the traditional lifestyles which promoted, protected and preserved Métis Nation culture and identity. Métis Elders have suggested that the increased alienation of young people from their cultures is intimately linked to the disruption of that cultural relationship and this disruption has had consequences in the future wellbeing of the land and the people.

Métis Nation knowledge and the knowledge systems which ensure the future generation and preservation of Métis Nation knowledge are key to survival of the Métis Nation as a distinct society and as a source of identity and pride for future generations. Métis Nation values and innovations are not advanced or celebrated at each Métis Nation event.

For more information:

Traditional knowledge prior art database

World Intellectual Property Organization

Metis National Council National Environment Committee

The Métis National Council has established a National Environment Committee comprised of the political person from each Governing Member responsible for the environment and their senior advisor to meet with MNC officials on scheduled meetings to discuss matters of significance to the Métis Nation in relation to the environment. Minutes are taken at each meeting. President Clément Chartier is the national Minister for the Environment and as such he is the Chairperson of the MNC National Environment Committee.

MNC NEC portal.