Indigenous science (or Native science) is “a science of the way of knowing the land.” It involves multiple ways of knowing the natural environment and highlights Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). As part of environmental education, Indigenous science can address climate change by informing government policy, strengthening human connections with nature, and building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Indigenous scholars are educating policy makers, scientists, and students about Indigenous science in various ways. For example, Dr. Myrle Ballard (Lake St. Martin First Nation), Director of Indigenous Science at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), raises awareness of Indigenous science through a process of “bridging, braiding, and weaving.” Dr. Ballard encourages better government decision making and collaborative research practices through linkages between Indigenous science and Western Science. In another example, at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Gregory Cajete (Santa Clara Pueblo) teaches about Native science, and encourages students to take responsibility for the environment, while also building a connection to it.

The Bunun People of Taiwan have designed an environmental education program involving TEK that engages their own community and non-Indigenous people. A key intention of the Bunun program is to encourage non-Indigenous people to adopt Indigenous environmental practices to combat climate change. The program strengthens Indigenous practices as a way to counter historical injustices caused by colonization.

Together, Indigenous science and environmental education can influence government policy and Western scientific practices, and foster diverse relationships, to address climate change.


By Leela Viswanathan


(Image Credit: Providence Doucet, Unsplash)

Climate Science 2050 (CS2050), a report released in 2020 by Environment and Climate Change Canada provides diverse perspectives on climate science, including Indigenous perspectives, and offers future directions for climate change research in Canada. The report recognizes the impact of “western scientific research practices and colonial policies” on the marginalization of Indigenous perspectives in climate change research and encourages researchers to rectify this historical practice. Guiding principles for CS2050 include Indigenous self-determination and recognition that Indigenous knowledge must ‘coexist’ alongside western science rather than to be subsumed by it. In addition, “collaboration across generations, disciplines, sectors, orders of government, organizations and regions” is highlighted. Examples from Indigenous-led climate change projects are offered throughout the report. At times, the report comes across as geared to a primarily non-Indigenous western audience intending to, or already working with, Indigenous communities. This is especially evident in statements about “supporting capacity building” within Indigenous communities rather than warning against engaging in extractive forms of scientific research. There is a missed opportunity to critique capacity-building approaches often imposed upon Indigenous communities, and to answer the question: capacity for whom, by whom? The report succeeds when it spotlights the climate change priorities of First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities, and the benefits of co-developing research with Indigenous research partners. Readers are encouraged to direct their attention toward supporting, if not funding, Indigenous-led knowledge creation and climate science that contributes to promoting the resilience of future generations.

By Leela Viswanathan

(Image Credit: Michael Hoyt, Unsplash)

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), with the support of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), are looking for comments and ideas regarding current and future freshwater management challenges in Canada and the role that a new Canada Water Agency could play in maintaining Canada’s freshwater sources. The Canada Water Agency would “work together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.”

The groups of focus for the consultation period include non-governmental organizations, including watershed organizations, academic institutions, municipalities, industry stakeholders, Indigenous peoples, and youth.

Consultation is being conducted through PlaceSpeak, an online engagement platform. Individuals can provide feedback via a discussion page on PlaceSpeak or they can contact ECCC directly at Through PlaceSpeak ECCC also plans on posting detailed discussion aids and specific questions in the future to gain a sense of direction Canadians would like to see the Canada Water Agency take. The link for the PlaceSpeak page can be found here:

This project is open from comments from May 13, 2020 – May 31, 2021.


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