Beyond Conservation: A Toolkit for Respectful Collaboration with Indigenous Peoples



Practical Steps and Resources


Tawow! Ni-miyeeyihtenaan! Atelihai! Welcome!

This toolkit was created by the Indigenous Knowledge Circle of the NBCKC to support individuals and organizations seeking to learn how to do things differently, how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and how to embed reconciliation into our conservation and stewardship work. We hope it helps you to advance genuine, respectful, and productive collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and organizations working to protect and restore lands, waters, and all living beings.

Beyond Conservation: A Toolkit for Respectful Collaboration with Indigenous Peoples provides:

Principles to guide collaboration across cultures (Indigenous and non-Indigenous);

Practical considerations, frameworks, and guidelines for applying those principles; and

Links to many resources that can help you work more effectively and respectfully across cultures.

This toolkit is for anyone working to protect and restore the land, waters, and all living things while advancing reconciliation.

It is intended for people from federal, provincial, and municipal governments; academic institutions; industry associations; and environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) who wish to collaborate with and support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit governments, communities, or organizations. Indigenous nations and organizations may want to share this toolkit with potential non-Indigenous partners to serve as guidance on how to collaborate.

This toolkit is not meant to be prescriptive, but offers guidance for cross-cultural collaborations based on the wisdom and experience of Indigenous Knowledge Circle members and many other groups who have undertaken similar work.

Photo by Melanie Mullin

This toolkit is an evergreen resource. It will be updated as we learn about new effective strategies for collaborating. We welcome your contributions if you know of tools or considerations that are missing! Please send your suggestions for improvement or additional tools to the NBCKC Secretariat at:

Beyond Conservation: A Toolkit for Respectful Collaboration with Indigenous Peoples is an initiative of the Indigenous Knowledge Circle (IKC), which is part of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium (NBCKC). The IKC is composed of representatives from Indigenous nations and organizations that have relationships with caribou, while the NBCKC includes members from Indigenous, provincial, territorial, and federal governments; industry; academia; consulting firms; and ENGOs. The toolkit is the result of many discussions, literature reviews, and workshops. The NBCKC’s work is inspired by the plight of caribou in the boreal region, and the desire to embrace Indigenous and western knowledge systems and advance Indigenous leadership in conservation.

About language in this toolkit

Language is important, as it reflects our worldview. We have been very mindful about the language we use in this toolkit and recognize that there is always room for improvement. We recognize the need for a distinction-based approach in all work, understanding that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people have unique histories, cultures, places, and worldviews. Since this toolkit provides generalized guidance, we often refer to “Indigenous Peoples” when speaking of all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis nations.

Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for definitions of other important terms, such as “Indigenous Knowledge,” “Elder,” etc.

How this toolkit was developed

The Indigenous Knowledge Circle (IKC) of the NBCKC first suggested creating a toolkit in November 2020. A literature review was undertaken to identify and compile resources that had already been developed on the topic of braiding knowledge systems and cross-cultural collaboration. Many of the excellent resources collected through that literature review are included in this toolkit.

The IKC held in-depth discussions about the values and principles they deem to be central to good working relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. These discussions, in conversation with the broader NBCKC and in reference to the literature previously collected, produced the 10 guiding principles for cross-cultural collaboration that form the core of the toolkit.

The practical considerations, resources, and guidance included in the toolkit were gathered from the literature review, and then organized, revised, and supplemented by various members of the toolkit family (see below).

The toolkit family

The creation of this toolkit was truly a collaborative undertaking and we have immense gratitude for the time and expertise that so many people lent to this project. Here are the people who brought the toolkit to life:

Indigenous Knowledge Circle Toolkit Working Group Members: Walter Andreeff (Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 5); Peter Friedrichsen (Prince Albert Model Forest); Benjamin Green-Stacey (Assembly of First Nations); Connor Staub (Manitoba Métis Federation)

Primary Writers and Editors: Kristin Clark (Environment and Climate Change Canada, NBCKC Secretariat); and Amanda Sheedy (independent consultant, co-facilitator of the Indigenous Knowledge Circle)

Original Content Developers from Archipel Research and Consulting: Sophia Bain, Megan Julian, Graham Paradis, Catherine Stockall, Courtney Vaughan

Reviewers (*Note that some reviewers looked at the entire toolkit, and some reviewed specific sections): Allison Bishop (University of Guelph); Jared Gonet (University of Alberta); Soudeh Jamshidian (IISAAK OLAM Foundation); Megan Julian (Archipel Research and Consulting); Deborah McGregor (York University); Robin Roth (University of Guelph); Justine Townsend (Justine Townsend Consulting); Courtney Vaughan (Archipel Research and Consulting)

Contributors to workshops: Indigenous Knowledge Circle and National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium members, Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership network members

Photographs contributed by: Kristin Clark (Environment and Climate Change Canada, NBCKC Secretariat); Ryan Dickie (Winter Hawk Studios); Ben Duffield (Fierce Bad Rabbit Pictures); Melanie Mullin (Environment and Climate Change Canada, NBCKC Secretariat); Erin Neave (Environment and Climate Change Canada, NBCKC Secretariat); Amanda Sheedy (independent consultant, co-facilitator of the IKC); Ezra Soiferman (; Ryan Wilkes, PhD.; and members of the Torngat Wildlife, Plants & Fisheries Secretariat

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