Reconciling Ways of Knowing

Indigenous Knowledge and Science Forum

Reconciling Ways of Knowing aims to facilitate a process of reconciliation across Indigenous and scientific ways of knowing. For generations, Western knowledge has invalidated the ways of being and knowing of Indigenous Peoples

During this time, Western science became the dominant form of knowledge in Canadian society and decision making and across the globe. In this position, it has enabled the exploitation of significant immediate benefits and has created the illusion that increasing scientific knowledge and technology enable human beings to escape the limits of nature. These immediate benefits, however, often come with devastating unanticipated consequences, or “externalities,” within the natural world.

Such consequences include dramatic declines in bird populations and other animal populations as a result of widespread spraying of DDT; depletion of the ozone layer resulting from the use of chlorofluorocarbons; increased incidence of cancer, asthma and other human health problems from the ever complexifying chemical cocktail we are creating in the environment in which we live; increased frequency and intensity of dangerous weather events as a result of escalating climate change; and biodiversity loss unprecedented in human history.

Reconciling Ways of Knowing emerged out of a recognition that these two problems and the responses needed for each are interconnected. It is clear we cannot continue on a path of subjection and oppression of Indigenous Peoples and the knowledge systems they have honed over generations, allowing them to survive and thrive in their territories with great success for at least tens of thousands of years. It is simultaneously clear that we also cannot continue to wreak such havoc on this planet, our home. It has been widely remarked that we have entered the Anthropocene, the geologic period in which human activity is responsible for dramatically changing the earth’s climate and ecosystems.

Through working to bring together Indigenous knowledge and science and build relationships between Indigenous knowledge keepers and scientists, Reconciling Ways of Knowing aims to transform environmental stewardship approaches and solutions, opening pathways to live in greater balance with the planet and each other.

Of necessity, this project is centred on the task of elevating understanding and respect for Indigenous knowledge, rather than on environmental solutions per se. As such, it is more properly focused on reconciliation than the environment in itself.

Reconciling Ways of Knowing is about reconciling ways of being and ways of knowing. It is about a Nation-to-Nation relationship between peoples: Indigenous Peoples (and their governments) and Canadians (and their governments).

It recognizes that a Nation-to-Nation relationship is far more than a government-to-government relationship between official representatives and structures. It is a relationship between the peoples and their ways of being and knowing. It recognizes that each is different in its ways of being and knowing, and that neither is superior or inferior to the other.

Through this process of reconciliation – through elevating respect for Indigenous ways of being and knowing – we will be in the best position to address the urgent stewardship challenges we face today, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and our public health and wellness now more than ever before.

Reconciling Ways of Knowing
Indigenous Knowledge and Science Forum