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Traditional ecological knowledge and environmental governance in Canada : the role of law and comprehensive agreements in facilitating incorporation Pudovskis, Matthew Stephen

Abstract

This thesis examines the incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge or “TEK” (sometimes known as “traditional knowledge”) in environmental governance regimes at two levels: at the national level in respect of Canada, and at the regional level in respect of environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) regimes established by or under comprehensive land claims agreements in Canada. The objective was, broadly, to gain an understanding of the depth and manner of TEK incorporation in Canada, particularly in the context of EIA regimes established under comprehensive agreements. I approached this objective by first reviewing the relevant literature on the theory of TEK, and identifying principles for the efficient and respectful incorporation of TEK in practical contexts, including co-management under comprehensive agreements. I then applied these principles in the contexts of the common law and statutory duties to consult, as well as statutory and other duties to consider TEK under Canadian law. For my main empirical chapter I applied the principles in the context of a detailed case study of TEK in relation to four EIA regimes established by or under six comprehensive agreements. For the case study I examined both the terms of agreements and associated rules and procedures, and documents evidencing actual project assessments. I conclude that statutory and other duties to consult Indigenous peoples and consider TEK provide a solid foundation for the incorporation of TEK in practice in Canada in relation to a wide range of areas of environmental governance. At a practical level, evidence for the substantial incorporation of TEK in Canada is less clear outside of the EIA context, though there is evidence in relation to some areas (especially fisheries and oceans management). In relation to EIA, there is evidence of substantial TEK incorporation in the context of co-management regimes established under comprehensive agreements. I discuss the role of legal and institutional mechanisms as well as other factors such as Indigenous agency in facilitating the incorporation of TEK in practical contexts. Finally, I suggest some ways in which EIA regimes established under comprehensive agreements might be designed so as to maximise the efficient and respectful incorporation of TEK.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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