During the second North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange, Dr. Henry Lickers from Turtle Clan Seneca opened the workshop, with a keynote address on Leadership and Biodiversity Conservation. Founding member of an environmental department that preceded the U.S. EPA and Canadian Department of Environment, he spoke to the ongoing challenges of advocacy, protection, and remediation, as well as the urgency of regenerating our ability to know, nurture and marvel at by the everyday nature that surrounds us – and be healed by it. Reflecting on the theme of the workshop, and the still-limited incorporation of Indigenous environmental knowledge in broader environmental work, he concluded, “The day we all declare ourselves part of biodiversity, that will be the day that we will have succeeded.”
Stemming from respect for the enormous experience and commitment present, a spirited desire for collaborative action filled the workshop. One idea that sparked plans for joint work was that of tribal parks. Eli Enns (Tla-o-qui-aht) shared the success of this context- and culturally-driven conservation model from the Pacific Northwest as a negotiating tool and path to increase autonomy and recognition of sovereignty in management of Indigenous traditional territories. He considers tribal parks as a type of Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCA), and works with the ICCA Consortium and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to advance recognition and establishment of such community-controlled conservation efforts worldwide.
NACELE 2015 was held at the Montréal Botanical Garden (MBG) from 18-22 June 2015, with the theme “Nourishing Relations: People, Plants and Place”.
All photos by Inanc Tekguc unless specified.