Aboriginal cultures, languages, and identities are irrevocably tied to the land. From traditional knowledge and land use practices to harvest traditional resources, and the processing and material products made from them, to people gathering, visiting and sharing food, bead and sewing skills, music, song, dance, and storytelling.
Cultural sustainability is dependent on transmission of these from the elder generation to the young, and a healthy and accessible land base from which to do that in order to thrive, not just survive.
Land stewardship and access are a part of the inherent Aboriginal right to continue on the land, and integral to the maintenance of health and biodiversity of the land, water, and wildlife the people rely on. For those who live closer to the land than most, they are the first to notice changes, and the first to be affected by them.
Climate change and anthropogenic activities are key challenges that impact the ability and opportunity to conduct cultural and harvesting practices.
Land, air, water, wildlife and biodiversity are part of a holistic interwoven ecological system. It's balance is what is required to keep the people that live with it culturally, socially, economically, and physically healthy and sustained.
Canada has endorsed these and related principles within the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the UN Convention on Biodiversity Article 8(j), and the spirit of reconciliation in recommendations made through the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Final Report.
To truly achieve these, community organizations and their land users must be consulted and equitably included in collaborative development of regional land management plans and policies that will affect their rights, the ecological integrity of their harvesting territories, and culturally significant resources. Crown authorities have a constitutional obligation to fulfill this promise and maintain ecosystems at a level of productivity sufficient to support the healthy cultural continuity of Aboriginal peoples. This priority should be echoed and coordinated in the mandates of all Ministries, and a new approach implemented through an equitable partnership that acknowledges the need for Aboriginal peoples and their knowledge for a successful outcome.