One of the Prince Albert Model Forest’s joint projects with the University of Saskatchewan’s Community Engaged History Collaboratorium this summer was the authorship of a best practices handbook for use by government, industry, academia, and any other interested third party who wishes to interact with an Indigenous community for research or land-use planning.
Follow this link to read the handbook: Grassroots Stewardship
So what is Grassroots Stewardship?
From the handbook:
Grassroots stewardship is the protection and use of the land by its actual inhabitants. This handbook has been designed to facilitate the grassroots stewardship of the land by outlining the processes by which you must approach a single community and ask them:
- What manner of relationship with the land they have maintained previously or are currently involved in;
- How they want their land used or preserved, and what sort of stewardship they want to undertake in the future; and
- What you yourself can offer to the communities of Northern Saskatchewan in exchange for their knowledge or the sharing of their land for your project.
Ultimately, the Indigenous peoples of Northern Saskatchewan were here long before any colonising force attempted exploitation of their land and no one knows the space like they do. Their wisdom, should you have the good fortune of having it shared with you, is not just to be listened to; it must be heard and integrated into your project as per their wishes, even (and especially) if that means coming to a compromise and altering your original project.
This handbook encourages stakeholders to approach communities with humility and vulnerability, and to work with them to design research initiatives from the ground up (rather than coming to them as part of the duty to consult in later stages of a project).
It is our sincere hope that this resource (which is free to use for all who need it) will be of value to those working in and with Indigenous communities (forest or otherwise) in their research and land development projects.