How to Use and Adapt This Course

Self-guided Learning

This course has been structured to support self-guided learning. It is presented in four modules – an intentional decision to mirror the importance of the number four in Indigenous worldviews and cultures. The medicine wheel is a significant symbol for many Indigenous communities with has four quadrants. The four sections also represent four sacred medicines (tobacco, sage, cedar, sweetgrass), four elements (earth, air, wind, and fire), four seasons, four cardinal points or directions. The number four is also frequently used in cultural ceremonies (to learn more about the importance of the number four, you can listen to Lynn Cote discussion of its significance in Indigenous cultures).

Pulling from Pulling Together

In 2018, BC Campus published an open-source collection of educational resources entitled Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization. The material is meant to support individuals and collective communities of practice dedicated to the ongoing efforts towards Indigenization, Decolonization and culturally aware practices within Educational institutions. This course aims to reflect the values presented in the Pulling Together resource, including self-awareness, self-location, humility, deep listening, contemplation and communities of care. This course provides an opportunity for non-Indigenous professionals and learners to engage in deeper learning and dedicated efforts towards individual decolonization and the Indigenization of professional practices.

Facilitated or co-learning approach

If possible, the learning will be more powerful if conducted in a group or with a partner. While much of the content of this course can be read individually, the activities can be practiced and shared within groups. It may also be helpful to listen to the full video interviews together, as they are bound to spark additional questions, thoughts, and reflections.

Each module ends with some recommended reflection and action prompts. In some contexts, it may be desirable, although not necessary, for the activities at the end of each module to be facilitated by a group leader or coordinator. No specialized knowledge or skills are required to lead the process other than facilitation skills (e.g., good listening, creating a brave space in which everyone feels valued, heard, and able to step into the discomfort of learning and unlearning). Any interested member of your group could do it, or you may want to bring in someone you trust who can hold the space and support the process. Not only will this deepen your learning and create a sense of accountability, but it can also help build a sense of safety in which people can take risks and talk about the emotions that arise through this process.

Complementary learning process

There is only so much you can learn in one course.. This is even more important in the context of learning about different cultures and worldviews, and learning that is informed by Indigenous pedagogy, which emphasizes learning from experience and relationships. The best approach to learning deeply about the topics discussed in this course is to use this course as a foundation to ongoing learning. Consider the suggested reflection and action prompts, explore the hyperlinks to other resources, and use the learning in this course to support other hands-on or experiential learning activities, especially those that involve engagement with Indigenous communities and culture.

There are a growing number of courses (see for example the trainings offered by Bob Joseph), MOOCS (see for example the Indigenous Canada course offered by the University of Alberta) and resource libraries (see for example) that can deepen and extend your learning about the history of Indigenous peoples and colonization, and about how to work in good ways with Indigenous peoples and communities as a non-Indigenous person.

Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (CACF) alignment

This course includes content that aligns to the Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (CACF). It is a comprehensive document that captures the inputs of domestic and international climate specialists. The CACF is comprised of five domains.

  1. Climate Adaptation Science and Practice Literacy
  2. Climate Adaptation Leadership
  3. Working Together in Climate Adaptation
  4. Understanding the Climate Adaptation Challenge
  5. Climate Adaptation Planning and Implementation.

Each domain includes a collection of competencies and there are a total of 24 competencies that comprise the CACF.

In this course, Indigenous Knowledges and Perspectives on Climate Adaptation, the three focused domains are Climate Adaptation Science and Practice Literacy, Working Together in Climate Adaptation and Understanding the Climate Adaptation Challenge. And the four corresponding competencies are Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Climate Adaptation Science, Cultural Agility and Safety and Personal Resilience.


indigenous knowledge systems comptency icon




Considers the rights and knowledge of Indigenous peoples, taking into account their unique cultural experiences and perspectives on the environment, climate change and adaptation, governance and ways of being.

  • Demonstrates understanding and respect for Indigenous rights and knowledge systems, including the value of collective processes and protocols, and their relationships to and reliance on the natural environment.
  • Demonstrates openness and appreciation for local and regional Indigenous history, culture, traditional knowledge and worldviews, and Indigenous scientific methodologies.
  • Adopts a relational approach to engaging and working with Indigenous peoples and communities.
  • Considers and takes into account evidence from both Indigenous and Western science-based knowledge systems, applying a holistic and systems-based perspective in decisions and practices.
  • Critically explores and integrates insights shared by local and Indigenous knowledge and rights holders to apply a holistic, relational lens to adaptation planning and actions.


climate adaptation science comptency icon




Applies a theoretical and practical grounding in the core concepts of climate adaptation, drawing from both Indigenous and Western science approaches to analyse challenges and facilitate incremental and transformative measures.

  • Approaches climate adaptation from a multidisciplinary and holistic perspective, drawing from both Indigenous and Western science perspectives,concepts, and theories to leverage adaptation’s trans-disciplinary nature.
  • Defines and identifies different use cases, timeframes, and typologies of climate adaptation actions (e.g., transformative, incremental, proactive,reactive).
  • Describes and translates climate scenarios, current climate trends, and regional and global impacts to identify adaptation opportunities and informadaptation action.
  • Identifies and analyses social, political, and cultural impacts and consequences of climate change, with a consideration of populations who experience disproportionate climate impacts.
  • Applies systems thinking to identify connections between climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and vulnerability as the basis for building resilience on social, physical, and economic levels.
  • Describes and distinguishes the constitutive and behavioural properties of complex adaptive systems.


cultural agility and safety comptency icon




Works respectfully with diverse cultural worldviews and perspectives, navigating historical and political dimensions of lived experience with sensitivity to create an environment of inclusion and collaboration.

  • Demonstrates openness, curiosity and appreciation for others and takes responsibility for own life-long learning even when that learning is uncomfortable.
  • Practices self-reflexivity about personal and/ or professional cultural biases, assumptions, and worldviews and the ways in which those shape understanding and orientation to climate change and climate adaptation measures.
  • Works respectfully, knowledgeably and effectively with diverse and culturally distinct individuals or groups in ways that demonstrate an understanding and respect for differences related to age, genders, socio-economic status, culture and history.
  • Puts into practice cultural style-shifting, modifying messages and approaches to create a sense of safety for all, minimizing power imbalances, and applying cultural understanding in climate adaptation measures.
  • Incorporates into practice, an understanding of how social and historical contexts, and structural and interpersonal power imbalances shape experience, and contribute to race, class, and gender-based discrimination or disadvantage.


personal resilience comptency icon

Adopts a flexible, adaptable approach to navigating personal and professional challenges and opportunities to maintain psychological wellness and balance within the space of uncertainty and change.

  • Acknowledges the impact on individual and collective resilience of uncertainty, stress, grief, and other emotions in response to the disaster impact of climate-related events, loss of biodiversity and impoverished lives of future generations in the context of climate change.

  • Strives to maintain self, staff, and groups’ well-being by focusing on adaptability, openness to change, and maintaining a support network in times of uncertainty, stress, and disruption of systems and environment.

  • Recognizes times of challenge for self or team and calls upon personal and supportive resources to mitigate mental and physical health impacts.

  • Intentionally practices resilient coping strategies by being proactive and working on adaptive responses and skills.

  • Integrates creative and mindful approaches to remain positive while keeping a realistic assessment of challenges, stress, and loss.


Content Attributions
 This section is adapted from Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers by
Asma-na-hi Antoine, Rachel Mason, Roberta Mason, Sophia Palahicky, and Carmen Rodriguez de France which is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 licence.
creative commons attribution (CC BY) license iconThe content on the CACF competencies is adapted from the Climate Adaptation Competency Framework by Robin Cox, Susanna Niederer, Vivian Forssman, Lynn Sikorski. The Resilience by Design Lab: Adaptation Learning Network: © 2020. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Indigenous Knowledges and Perspectives on Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Royal Roads University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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