Yunesit’in (Stone), west of Williams Lake, is one of six First Nation communities comprising the Tsilhqot’in Nation. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Tsilhqot’in Nation signs Indigenous protocol agreement with University of B.C.

Research to be undertaken with cultural safety

Collaboration, cooperation and partnership grounded in respect for the Indigenous rights of the Tsilhqot’in Nation have been laid out in an agreement and memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed recently by the Tsilhqot’in National Government and University of British Columbia (UBC).

Led by Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) vice chair, Chief Russell Myers Ross and UBC associate vice president of research and innovation, Prof. Helen Burt, the MOU and Indigenous Knowledge Protocol Agreement (IK Protocol) were signed Aug. 11.

Helping lead the Centre for Environmental Assessment Research at UBC’s Okanagan Campus where UBC and TNG have multiple research collaborations underway including Indigenous lead impact assessment, mapping and visualizations of landscape change, new approaches and technologies for wildlife monitoring and water governance, Dr. Kevin Hanna said the MOU represents an important step forward in the relationship between UBC and the TNG.

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“We have a unique opportunity to learn from the knowledge and experience of our Tŝilhqot’in colleagues, and to connect the resources and expertise of UBC to a range of historic and emerging environmental and natural resource management challenges in Tŝilhqot’in territory,” he stated in a news release.

“There is a lot of innovative work we are already doing — in impact assessment and geospatial science, and more is being planned. But this is very much about connecting different forms of knowledge, creating new collaborative approaches to doing research, and ensuring that the outcomes have value to Tŝilhqot’in communities.”

As well as fostering a culture free of racism and discrimination, the MOU and IK Protocol recognize the intellectual property rights of the Tsilhqot’in knowledge and solidify the Nation’s data ownership and control. The MOU also establishes a foundation for future collaborations that incorporate Tsilhqot’in knowledge, community needs and sustainable environmental practices and opportunities within Tsilhqot’in territory.

Read More: Tsilhqot’in utilize social media after annual Nation Gathering called off due to COVID-19

“The relationship with Hanna and his team at UBC has worked well, from the original conversations about cumulative effects to working with the Tŝilhqot’in Nation lands department to conduct a variety of useful projects to fill the gaps of understanding the Tŝilhqot’in territory,” Myers Ross said in a news release.

Collaborating with the support of the Indigenous Research Support Initiative (IRSI), he said the agreements collectively represent one of many projects from UBC to further their research priorities.

“IRSI has ensured continuity and governance support in fostering the relationship between UBC and the Tsilhqot’in Nation,” Myers Ross added.

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