Inward Gathering, Outward Sharing

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Project Team: Tanja Hoffmann and Roma Leon [q̓ə́yc̓əy knowledge holder]

Project Support and Funding: Katzie First Nation and Justice Canada and Leverhulme Trust

The Katzie Customary Law project focuses on q̓ə́yc̓əy [Katzie] First Nation customary law revitalization and application. It employs de-colonizing methodologies by placing the decision-making authority over specific avenues and approaches to research in the hands of community members. It has three interrelated objectives. 

As a first priority, the project team has begun to develop an understanding of customary law as its contemporary manifestations. Specifically, the team is working with Elders and other Katzie knowledge holders to reveal Indigenous laws through research into the customary protocols embedded in Katzie’s relationship to and management of their territory. Based on early discussions with Katzie knowledge holders, the project hosted a series of online workshops with Katzie family groups to begin the process of acknowledging and documenting contemporary uses of Katzie customary law and legal principles. One of the outcomes of these meetings was the recommendation to remove the term “law” from outputs geared toward the community since, to Katzie, the word “law” is a European construct that does not reflect the spirit of intent underlying traditional protocols. A second recommendation was that we establish an advisory council to provide community-based direction for future project phases. The q̓ə́yc̓əy snanəm [Katzie advisory group] has been formed and met for the first time in October 2022. The team is also collating existing Katzie policy, mission statements, and other relevant sources to examine how customary protocols are articulated through contemporary community policy.  

The second objective (re)introduces customary protocol on the land. Modelled after some of the outdoor education approaches used by other First Nations, the team has conducted several culture and language camps for Katzie people. These trips (re-)introduce Katzie to their territory through the meaningful contextualization of customary teachings in reference to their own language, and to the physical objects, places, and sacred spaces of Katzie territory. To date we have conducted a place-names tour and cedar bark stripping fieldtrip. The focus of further camps will be directed by the q̓ə́yc̓əy snanəm. In addition to the camps themselves, deliverables for this phase include Katzie reflections on customary protocol for the future. These reflections, garnered throughout the camps and in an end-of-camp roundtable discussion, will inform how customary protocols should be translated to, and applied in, broader contexts. The combined results of the first two objectives will be used to create a customary teachings charter document written in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and translated into English as a basis for the third study objective. 

For the final study phase, and in accordance with the third objective, the team will investigate the external application of customary protocol with respect to the creation of a Katzie economic development plan. As told in Katzie oral history, customary laws dictate that Katzie manage the territory for their benefit, but also for the benefit of others. Principles of sharing and reciprocity are fundamental aspects of customary protocol, and Katzie are keen to seek their contemporary application. Building upon previous project outcomes, this final phase will see Katzie knowledge holders, Elders, and youth work with Katzie leadership, researchers and technical governance teams to examine the most effective avenues to influence external decision-making bodies to adopt or at least consider customary protocol. This phase will include technical review of decision-making policies and procedures that stem from municipal, provincial, and federal laws as they apply to Katzie territory. Meetings with government representatives will encourage open dialogue about how customary protocol could impact the course of their own decision-making. Finally, Katzie will consider the application of customary protocol within the context of their own economic development planning. Outcomes of this final research phase will contribute to an economic development plan that highlights economic development opportunities that are in keeping with customary protocol and which challenge current non-Katzie legal, policy, and procedural frameworks that constraint Katzie opportunity. 

Sustainable Development Goal/s: