Exploring governance mechanisms and Mi'kmaw values and aspirations for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in Nova Scotia
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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) have been framed as an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to reclaim stewardship of their territories, create space for Indigenous resurgence and cultural revitalization, and transform approaches to protected areas in Canada. This project was developed in partnership with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM) and the Unama’ki Institute for Natural Resources (UINR) – two Mi’kmaw organizations that serve the 13 Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia (NS). This project contributes to knowledge generation around IPCA governance in NS and to literature relevant to Indigenous-led conservation initiatives in Canada more broadly. The objectives of this research project were to: 1) Identify the key factors that have created space for IPCAs in Canada and Nova Scotia; 2) Interpret and analyze protected areas governance models to identify potential desirable governance arrangements in this context; and 3) Explore Mi’kmaw aspirations and perspectives on IPCAs. Through the application of a qualitative participatory toolkit involving a critical document review, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews, the results from this project identify governance tools and arrangements that could be used to advance IPCAs as well as institutional change that the Mi’kmaq of NS could mobilize through IPCAs. Further, the results of this project illustrate how the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and the partner organizations to this project have established strong working relationships, collaborative approaches, and adaptive planning strategies to effectively build, assert, and strengthen capacities that support their efforts to advance Mi’kmaq-led IPCA governance.