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July 25, 2013

VU Researcher Honoured at First Nations Ceremony

A Victoria University researcher has been celebrated for her contributions to negotiations between Indigenous groups, government and industry in an international context.

Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing Research Fellow Dr Deirdre Wilcock was in Canada recently at a First Nations (Indigenous) ceremony

acknowledging her role in their recent environmental negotiations and a Supreme Court case.

Her research into environmental decision-making and consultation between Indigenous groups, government and industry has helped two First Nations groups in particular - the Maiyoo Keyoh and Daiya-Mattess Keyoh (Keyoh meaning traditional territory) - based in northern British Columbia.

The Maiyoo Keyoh Society was part of a Supreme Court case set to shape governance procedures with Indigenous groups world-wide.

Dr Wilcock's work was also formally submitted as evidence to the current Enbridge Pipeline Review Panel, charged with providing recommendations to support or reject the pipeline proposed to transect British Columbia (from Kitimat in British Columbia, to Edmonton in Alberta). The Keyohs argue that the Enbridge Pipeline impinges on their Aboriginal rights, and poses significant risks to their lands and waters, as the proposed route cuts straight through the Daiya-Mattess (and other) Keyoh territories.

Both cases are anticipated to have significant global impact in government-Indigenous relations.

The recent ceremony, called 'Dune ilhunahoozle' ('Bringing People Together'), honoured Dr Wilcock and other special guests for their efforts in helping the Keyohs protect the land, animals and people.

Elder John Julian said it was the first time a ceremony like this has been done since 1939.

Other special guests included:

  • Jim Munroe, President of the Maiyoo Keyoh Society

  • Christopher Devlin, the lawyer representing Maiyoo Keyoh at the Supreme Court

  • John Dewhirst, prominent Anthropologist who has written countless reports and had many court appearances

  • Gary Bull and John Nelson, Professors of Forestry at the University of British Columbia.

Keyoh Holders Lillian Sam, Nakazlungkoh Keyoh, Rusty Alec and Catherine Coldwell ustani were also honoured for lifetime recognition of their work to protect the Keyohs.

Find out more about Dr Wilcock's research, which is supported through the Collaborative Research Network (CRN).

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