Core Capacities Overview: Reconciliation and Decolonization

Engage with Questions About Climate Adaptation in the Context of Reconciliation and Decolonization

As the Municipal Climate Services Collaborative (2020) writes, “The inclusion of Indigenous knowledge systems should be built into all aspects of the adaptation process from the different forms of impact, vulnerability and risk assessments to adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring of strategies” (p. 10). This is one view, among many, of what it can mean to engage actively with imperatives for reconciliation and decolonization in climate adaptation efforts. Similarly, the question of what it can mean and look like to include Indigenous knowledge systems in this work does not have a simple answer.

The core capacities described in this module reflect some aspects of what this journey can look like. For non-Indigenous learners, it’s important to note that this is lifelong work, and this course provides one entry point into a deeper commitment and process, one that founders of the organization Decolonizing Practices describe as “peeling back the layers of neocolonialism” (Decolonizing Practices, n.d.). It is more than a new set of tools overlaid onto existing approaches. It involves the kinds of learning and unlearning described in the above sections and also something that may be more personal, connected to an exploration of the very assumptions, stories and worldviews inherited from a system that is built on domination and disconnection (Theriault, 2015; Eidinger & York-Bertram, 2018).

As Andrea Eidinger and Sarah York-Bertram (2018) remind us, “Though often assumed to be a historical process, settler colonialism as a project is always partial, unfinished, and in-progress.” In each module, therefore, readings and reflections are offered that aim to support this ongoing journey. For learners in this course who are Indigenous, your contributions to this collective work are welcome in the form(s) that you would like offer them.

The following perspectives offer additional and overlapping views on what it can mean to engage with questions of reconciliation and of decolonizing practices of engagement and dialogue for climate adaptation.

Jessie Hemphill’s nested systems approach offers the following ideas for what it can mean to include Indigenous knowledge systems in the work of climate adaptation. This approach reflects, “an interconnectedness that leads to an ethic of caring for each other and for all living things and of a shift from ‘I’ to ‘We’, the individual not as individual but as connected to family, community, land, and cosmos” (Sandercock, 2020). Jess Housty’s essay, Find Your Pod, in the readings for Module Two invites the reader into a similar kind of reflection on their sources of connection to place, meaning and purpose as it relates to their action on crises such as climate change (Housty, 2020).

As Hemphill explains, “Climate adaptation is so complex, what we need to do is create living processes and systems that allow us to move with the change as it happens. This maps well to Indigenous approaches that are living rather than content oriented” (Hemphill, n.d.).

In a review of the book Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to Global Crisis by Nuu-chah-nulth Hereditary chief Umeek / E. Richard Atleo, Noah Theriault (2015) also makes the links between climate adaptation and the imperative for decolonizing our thinking and ways of working. “Habitability… must always also be a question about how an untold multiplicity of beings can cooperatively meet their needs in particular places. Habitability is, thus, an inherently plural concept—best if self-determined and not overdetermined by stories that made the Anthropocene possible in the first place” (Theriault, 2015).


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book