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

Project Support and Funding: Katzie First Nation and Justice Canada

How can we mobilize heritage to address climate change? For some critical heritage scholars the answer to this question relies in part on the “future-making potential” of ontological pluralism (Harrison, 2015; Gentry and Smith, 2019). While theoretical discourse promotes consideration of how different world views might influence thinking about nature:culture relationships and the impacts of climate change (Haraway, 2018; Haraway, 2016; Delchambre and Marquis, 2013; Latour, 2013; Tsing, 2015), less emphasis has been placed on how these ideas might manifest as action in real world contexts. 

This project weaves together strands of Indigenous sovereignty and rights discourse, specifically those that foreground reconciliation, with Indigenous ontology, resource management policy, and keystone places thinking in a Canadian context. In collaboration with the Katzie First Nation and several Canadian Federal, Provincial, and municipal regulatory bodies, we explore how reimplementation of Indigenous rights-based management of cultural keystone places constitutes the meaningful mobilization of cultural heritage for climate-change response. Specifically, we are investigating how Indigenous place-based management combats climate change on two fronts. First through biodiversity preservation and enhancement, and second through exploration of whether Katzie’s ontologically-based avenues of “attending to” their world have the potential to inspire the kind of broad-based systems change many experts cite as necessary for climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

Cultural keystone places occur with Indigenous cultural landscapes where there is particularly high biodiversity, cultural importance, and intensive use (Cuerrier et al. 2015:429). Our project centres on one such place—the Widgeon Creek Valley. The valley, situated in the heart of Katzie First Nation territory, is widely acknowledged as among the most ecologically diverse and sensitive remaining natural habitats in the increasingly urbanized landscapes of the Metro Vancouver area of the Lower Fraser River Valley of British Columbia, Canada. The eco-cultural, jurisdictional, and policy circumstances of the Widgeon Creek Watershed make it an ideal candidate for the establishment of a cultural keystone place over which Katzie people can once again practice sovereign management. 

The Katzie-led project team is currently working with government agencies who retain management control over portions of the Widgeon Creek Valley to designate the valley as a Katzie Cultural Keystone Place. This project offers unique opportunities for heritage mobilization through enactment of meaningful reconciliation. In upcoming phases of the project, we hope to design an eco-cultural heritage education programme that will seize upon the rapidly growing enthusiasm for outdoor and backcountry pursuits from nearby urban dwellers. The education programme will test whether “attending” might change how the non-Katzie public perceive and behave when they are encouraged to, through a lens of “attending”, immerse themselves in and engage in a reciprocal and humble fashion, with the affective dimensions of more-than-representational landscapes. 

Sustainable Development Goal/s: