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This section of the portal will contain all the summaries on the virtual roundtables NWAC has conducted on the FFHP. There needs to be the ability for participants to comment on the summaries provided below for each of the roundtable summaries, as well as the recommendations that were produced from these roundtables.
In late 2020 and early 2021, NWAC organized and facilitated three virtual roundtables on Indigenous gender-based issues related to the fisheries and fish and fish habitat protections. The purpose of this Virtual Roundtable Series was to facilitate discussions on matters of particular interest and concern to indigenous women that may be affected by regulatory and administrative decision-making under the FFHP provisions.
These engagements provided invaluable insight into the experiences of indigenous women in the fisheries, conservation activities, and governance over Indigenous resources and greatly informed our analysis and understanding of the issues analyzed in a final report that was sent to the DFO in March 2021 .
The engagement sessions were held December 14th 2020, January 15th 2021, and February 25th 2021, with the same 8 individuals attending each session. Each engagement session was three hours in length and participants were paid $200 for each session. All individuals who participated in the engagement sessions were Indigenous women, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirt people, inclusive of First Nations residing within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, status and non-status, Métis, and Inuit, encompassing the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western regions of Canada.
The first roundtable in this series focused on Indigenous gender-based issues in fish and fish habitat protection and conservation, specifically on the role that men, women and 2SLGBTQQIA persons have in Indigenous and commercial fisheries activities. Respect was a predominant theme that was evident in this roundtable. The concept of respect refers to mind and body, gender-diversity, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, water and fisheries, territory, and earth. The use of respect in traditional Indigenous fishing activities is essential to men, women, and 2SLGBTQQIA persons. A lack of respect exists for women that participate in commercial Indigenous fishing activities. Sexism and racism replace respect and were echoed throughout this roundtable.
Participants also stated that Elders play an important role in guiding traditional Indigenous fishing and environmental conservation activities. Elders, regardless of gender, are knowledge holders, as they can speak to a lived experience on the land and water. Elders stress the importance of the inclusion of cultural and spiritual rites in traditional Indigenous fishing and environmental conservation activities. Participants noted that they have observed a knowledge gap between youth and elders, which could adversely affect traditional Indigenous fishing and environmental conservation activities.
The first roundtable focused on consultation and engagement on decision-making under the FFHP. Specific questions focused on participant’s involvement in discussions, engagements, and consultations with the Government of Canada with a focus on industrial projects that could affect fish or fish habitat and conservation efforts. Half of the participants stated that they were involved in such discussions, engagements, and consultations with the Government of Canada. Sessions focused on environmental issues, such as species at risk and species of concern. Participants were dissatisfied with their experiences in consultation and engagements with the Government of Canada.
Evident themes that emerged from this roundtable focused on the importance of recognizing Indigenous governance and decision-making. Emphasis was focused on making sure the Government of Canada solicits input from Indigenous women on the fish and fish habitat protection. Racism was also mentioned as a barrier for women, which impacts fish and fish habitat protection. Participants agree that Indigenous rights are disregarded by the non-Indigenous public. A fostering of understanding and respect must happen to fully engage Indigenous women in fish and fish habitat protection. Participants spoke to their role as rights protectors and environmental stewards.
In previous engagements, participants expressed that their input, perspectives, and traditional knowledge systems were undermined and not held to the same standards as western knowledge systems. This is an additional barrier that negatively impacts women and 2SLGBTQQIA persons participation in fish and fish habitat protection. Participants agreed that an undermining of Indigenous women’s voices by the Government of Canada shows a lack of respect for Indigenous women’s perspectives.
Session One: Experience with Discussions, Engagements and Consultations with the Government of Canada
Session Two: Best Practices for Consulting with Indigenous Women and 2SLGBTQQIA Persons on Project Level Fisheries Impacts
The purpose of the third roundtable was to generate exchanges that contributed to the development of a guidance document for engaging and consulting with Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA persons on regulation-making and decision-making under the FFHP. Common concerns, interests, and knowledge sets of Indigenous peoples on these matters were considered.
This roundtable format reviewed each of the recommendations that were set out in the draft guidance document. This document was a culmination of input from the first two discussions, inclusive of research and analysis.
Eight major themes were brought to the fourth from this final roundtable discussion:
There is fear and trauma that First Nations, Inuit and Metis women and 2SLGBTQQIA persons face daily, as a result of colonialism, sexism, and racism. The Government of Canada must recognize these factors remain the greatest barriers to participation in fish and fish habitat protection.
In January 2022, NWAC held three virtual webinar engagement sessions on the FFHP. The focus of the engagement sessions was to understand Indigenous women, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit people’s relationship to and traditional knowledge about issues regarding fish and fish habitat protection. From these engagement sessions, NWAC prepared a position paper outlining three key recommendations for the DFO in relation to their Wave 2 Draft Position Statements. Click here to view the report in detail.
The first part of the engagement sessions focused on gauging participants general understand and awareness – and how they would like to be made aware- about the FFHP and changes that can occur via its policies, programs, and regulator initiatives. The second part of the engagement sessions focused more specifically on how issues around fish and fish habitat affect Indigenous women, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit people differently than Indigenous men as well as understanding what types of issues related to fish and fish habitat are the most important for the DFO to consider Indigenous women’s knowledge, views, and concerns.
The engagements sessions were held January 17th, 20th, and 21st from 2:00pm-4:00pm EST. A total of 42 participants attended the sessions. Participants were recruited via NWAC’s Facebook and Twitter, with over 100 individuals expressing interest in attending one of the sessions. All individuals who participated in the engagement sessions were Indigenous women, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirt people, inclusive of First Nations residing within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, status and non-status, Métis, and Inuit, encompassing the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western regions of Canada.
Recommendation 1: The DFO should adopt a distinctions-based approach when consulting with Indigenous communities and considering Indigenous knowledge when making approval decisions for Fisheries Act authorizations, which would:
- Recognize the different relationships that Indigenous peoples have with the DFO based on history, geography, and physical proximity to First Nations reserves, Métis settlements, and Inuit land claim areas
- Rebuild trust and foster relationships founded on respect and reciprocity with communities in the East by providing cultural sensitivity training to DFO officers and encouraging them to participate in community-based education about fish and fish habitats
- Coordinate with Indigenous governments to utilize their existing community newsletters and social media networks to actively consult with and seek knowledge from First Nations who live off reserve, Métis who do not reside in settlements, and Inuit who live outside of traditional land claim areas
Recommendation 2: The DFO should use a culturally relevant gender-based analysis to incorporate Indigenous women and gender-diverse people’s knowledge and perspectives when making approval decisions for Fisheries Act authorizations, which would:
- Engage directly with Indigenous women and gender-diverse people at the grassroots level through one-on-one conversations
Consider Indigenous women’s roles as food providers, water-keepers, and life givers
Recommendation 3: Consultations with Indigenous communities must be reciprocal and Indigenous Knowledge shared with the DFO needs to be valued and respected, this can be achieved by:
- Replacing the DFO’s “Scientific Risk Informed Approach” with a “Two-Eyed Seeing Approach” when making approval decisions for Fisheries Act authorizations
- Developing a reporting system where the DFO discloses to Indigenous communities how any Indigenous Knowledge shared with them was used
- Paying Indigenous Elders and Knowledge-Keepers at the same rate as scientific and western experts
DRAFT Position Statement (talkfishhabitat.ca)
How aware are you about the FFHP program and any developments or changes to it? If not, why do you think this is?
2. Has the government ever informed you or your community about proposed changes or developments to the FFHP? If not, why do you think this is?
3. How would you like the government to share information with you regarding any developments or changes to the FFHP?
4. Are there any barriers to the government sharing proposed developments or changes about the FFHP program with you or your community? If so, what are the barriers?
In your experience, do proposed changes to policies or developments regarding the FFHP that affect fish and fish habitats impact Indigenous women and gender-diverse people differently than men?
2. How can the government take Indigenous women and gender-diverse people’s perspectives and knowledge about fish and fish habitats when considering changes to polices or approving works to the FFHP?
3. What specific changes to policies or programs under the FFHP do you think are particularly important for the government to consider Indigenous women and gender-diverse people’s knowledge and perspectives?
4. What are some comments or concerns that you have about Indigenous women and gender-diverse people sharing their perspectives and knowledge about fish and fish habitats with the government when making changes to policies or developments to the FFHP program?
Participants stated that they were not familiar with the FFHP but that they are interested in learning more about the FFHP and would like the DFO to share information with them directly regarding any developments or changes to the FFHP. The individuals in this engagement session suggested that the DFO should specifically engage with Indigenous communities through their existing community websites, newsletters, and local radio stations.
Importantly, many participants stated that the DFO should not take a pan-Indigenous approach when engaging with communities about the FFHP, meaning that a variety of approaches and strategies need to be used based on each communities needs. Participants suggested that the DFO should first consult with communities of interest to determine how they would like information about the FFHP to be disseminated to them. Similarly, when asked about potential barriers for engaging with the DFO about the FFHP, the individuals in this session suggested that their government members should not be the only individuals that the DFO engages with.
When asked how they would like to be made aware about the FFHP more broadly, all the participants agreed that NWAC’s FFHP portal would be useful, stating specifically that accessible language, easy to understand information, and a clear layout would be useful to them. Participants also suggested that NWAC create a video that outlines step-by-step instructions on how to access and use the portal and post it to NWAC’s Facebook page.
During the second part of the engagement session, participants explained that because women are water-keepers and food providers in their communities, they are impacted by issues about fish and fish habitat and FFHP programs differently than their male-counterparts. Because of this, participants stated that the DFO should consider Indigenous women and gender-diverse people’s perspectives and knowledge about fish and fish habitats when considering changes to policies or approving works to the FFHP.
However, participants also explained that for them to feel comfortable with sharing feedback with the DFO, there needs to first be reciprocity and respect. One suggestion participants had for the DFO to engage with Indigenous women, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit people was for DFO officers to participate in cultural sensitivity training for specific community protocols and knowledge of the land.
Further, when asked what specific changes to policies or programs under the FFHP they think are particularly important for the government to consider Indigenous women and gender-diverse people’s knowledge and perspectives, participants expressed concern with the DFO’s interim code of practise on Bever Damn Removal. Specifically, they were concerned with compliance measures that would ensure that the removal of dams do not cause flooding that would affect fish migratory and spawning patterns.
Participants noted that they had not heard of the FFHP but felt that it is an important issue for them to be informed on and have a voice on how it is designed and implemented. The individuals in this session felt that women are not being informed of changes to the FFHP that might affect their cultural traditions and their roles as food providers for their families.
When asked if the government has ever informed individuals or their community about proposed changes or developments to the FFHP, one participant voiced that she felt that the DFO only engages with a small number of communities. This comment led to another participant noting that in her experience, only the Band Council members or Chiefs meet with the DFO and then decide what information to share with their communities. However, she explained that often the Chiefs do not represent the needs and wants of Indigenous women at the grassroots level.
This engagement session also highlighted the different relationships that the DFO has between Indigenous communities. For example, one participant brought up the tenuous relationship between Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia while another participant from the West Coast explained that her community had good relations with the DFO. Participants from the East Coast explained that their strained relationship with the DFO is a significant barrier to providing them with their feedback and knowledge about FFHP issues.
Participants in this session also emphasized Indigenous women’s importance role as care givers and life givers. Many individuals noted that women in their communities are sought after for advice and could be the bridges in forming a unity with the DFO and their communities. Specifically, grandmothers must be involved and DFO should talk to them because as someone said, “when an elder dies, a library dies with them”.
Like the second engagement session, concerns were raised about the FFHP interim code of practise on beaver dams.
Only a few participants in this engagement session had heard about the FFHP program. Participants explained that some correspondence shared with their governments from the DFO is not disseminated down to the grassroots level, which leads to a lack of awareness about FFHP developments. To remedy this, participants believe that the DFO to start including Indigenous women at the grassroots level. Another participant noted that the DFO should actively engage with Indigenous peoples regardless of whether they live on reserves and within land claims areas.
Another theme that emerged during this session was the conflict between traditional and commercial fishers. Participants believe that disputes between traditional and commercial fishers arise because of failures within the existing colonial framework. There is a lack of treaty relationships between traditional fishers and bylaw officers and no interest by the provincial government to engage with conservation efforts.
Most participants agreed that issues that affect fish and fish habitats impact Indigenous women and gender-diverse people differently than men because as one participant said, “it’s women who take care of children and the home”, in most cases. Another participant pointed out that regulations may affect men who dominate commercial fishing more than women in her area who are recreational or traditional fishers.
This session also highlighted that the DFO needs to give equal weight to Indigenous Knowledge in the same way they do western science. Multiple concerns were raised about how Indigenous Knowledge shared with the DFO will be taken into consideration. Participants believed that it is important to hold the DFO accountable to the same standard that is demanded of First Nations and have the DFO report back to communities and individuals as to how and if indigenous Knowledge is being used.