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Indigenous Peoples & National Parks

Conservation is colonialism.

Poster by Nancy Kimberley Phillips

Accompanying essay  by Wacey Little Light. 

Permission granted for use of illustration and essay.

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Cameron Library


Cameron Library for
Sciences, Engineering & Business


Hello! Tân’si! Edlánat’e! Aba washded! Oki! Aanii! Hau!

                                                                                                            Excerpt from

Indigenous Peoples and National Parks in Canada

This subject guide presents a multidisciplinary literature review that aims to introduce the historical and current relationship of the Indigenous peoples and Canada’s national parks. The review is part of a project that is rooted in the ongoing attempt at positioning/contextualizing the William C. Wonders map collection - in this case, through the awareness of the fact that the Indigenous peoples experience the creation of Canada’s national parks as a continuation of the process of settler colonialism. 

The creation and maintenance of the national parks system in Canada is one that was built on the forcible exclusion of Indigenous peoples. Beginning in the late 19th century, the federal government started creating a network of national parks to conserve the 'pristine' wilderness to be managed from Ottawa.  Many Indigenous communities were forcibly displaced within the newly-established park boundaries thereby disconnecting them from their traditional territories & resource management/rights.  New inclusionary paradigms, including co-management. Indigenous protected & conservation areas and community based conservation, support the decolonization process through the promotion of  Indigenous land governance, conservation and sovereignty.


Books - History of Canada's national parks

National Parks - Global perspectives

Articles - History of national parks

New paradigms: Collaboration, Co-management, IPAC's, Traditional Environmental Knowledge...