The application of Indigenous wisdom within a contemporary western science perspective is important to ensure a robust understanding of the ambient environment. The Alberta Environment and Parks Chief Scientist is committed to working with First Nations and Métis communities in Alberta by involving them in the design and implementation of environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting programs and activities.
In collaboration with Indigenous communities, we are working to develop strategies that are respectful and representative of traditional approaches to environmental monitoring and sustaining natural resources.
The purpose of the Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel (IWAP) is to:
- Provide the Chief Scientist with strategic advice and recommendations regarding meaningful application of Indigenous wisdom and inclusion of Indigenous peoples within Alberta’s environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting system.
- Advise and report on the overall ability of the science and monitoring system to link Indigenous and western scientific approaches in the appropriate context.
Key focus areas
Key focus areas of the IWAP include:
- The respect and protection of Indigenous wisdom.
- Accepted methodology associated with the applications of Indigenous wisdom in an environmental context and the linkage of Indigenous and western science-based systems.
- Emerging and best practices for application of Indigenous wisdom in a science-based monitoring system.
- Effective and efficient methods for understanding and addressing community-based monitoring priorities for ambient environmental monitoring.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) refers to the knowledge held by Indigenous peoples and shared orally across generations over hundreds of years through direct contact with, and understanding of, the local environment and traditional territories.
Originally named the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Advisory Panel, the Panel members, who are knowledge keepers and Elders, renamed the panel to focus on Indigenous wisdom. The term Indigenous wisdom reflects an accurate and culturally appropriate recognition of the scope of Indigenous knowledge and worldview.
Mandate and roles
For more information about the Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel’s roles and responsibilities, see: Mandate and Roles – Alberta Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel (PDF, 165 KB)
Mr. Harley Bastien is a member of the Piikani First Nation in Southern Alberta. He is the President of Harmony Walkers Inc. (HWI), an environmental consulting company he founded in 2002. HWI offers a unique conceptual approach to environmental protection by combining Traditional Knowledge and modern science. HWI provides environmental services nationally and internationally, including Canada, the United States, China and the Netherlands.
Mr. Bastien resides on the Piikani Reservation where he was born. He was raised in the Oldman river valley and continues to call the river valley home. He was taught by his parents and grandparents how to live in harmony and balance with nature and how to live off the land. Today, Mr. Bastien still lives a subsistence lifestyle of harvesting nature’s bounties.
Mr. Bastien’s upbringing and closeness to the land inspired him to embark on a career in environmental protection. In his earlier years, he was involved in the oil and gas industry that included oil well drilling and pipeline construction and other related components of the industry. It was during this time he became aware of the neglect and negative effects to Mother earth by development that prompted him to make a career change. In 1990, he began working in the environmental protection industry.
Mr. Bastien’s current involvement in the environmental industry includes: consulting, volunteer work and sitting on advisory boards and panels for various environmental groups and organizations, including First Nations, Provincial and Federal governments and NGOs both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Reggie Crowshoe
Dr. Reggie Crowshoe is an Elder of the Piikani First Nation in Southern Alberta, where he formerly served as Chief. He is a Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta.
Dr. Crowshoe has a long standing relationship with the University of Calgary and has generously shared and offered his assistance, ceremonial leadership and traditional knowledge to students, the Native Centre and other faculties for many years. Widely recognized for his dedication to Piikani artifacts, traditions, language, culture and history, Dr. Crowshoe was awarded an honorary Doctorate Degree by the University of Calgary in 2001, an honour he shares with his father, the late Joseph Crowshoe.
Dr. Crowshoe is also the founder of the Old Man River Cultural Society, and he authored the book Akak’stiman, A Blackfoot Framework for Decision-Making and Mediation Processes, published by University of Calgary Press in 2002.
Elmer Ghostkeeper is an Elder and Council member of the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement, and the President of Weche Teachings, an organization dedicated to fostering a meaningful partnership between Indigenous wisdom and the Western scientific method. This concept, called Wisescience, is used to understand and solve modern day challenges facing Indigenous people.
Mr. Ghostkeeper speaks fluent Michif, the language of Métis people. A Spiritualist, father, grandfather, teacher, student, philosopher and entrepreneur, his view is that every day is a gift that teaches him something about life and who he is. His daily challenge is to be loving, enjoying, balancing, happy, healthy, solving a life puzzle, respecting and being grateful. He lives in the moment by incorporating yesterday’s experiences into a plan for today’s activities.
Ms. Melody Lepine is a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) and was raised in the beautiful community of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. She serves as a board member for the Cumulative Environment Management Association (CEMA) and as a trustee for the MCFN IBA trust. For over a decade, she has worked for her community and First Nation as the Director of Government and Industry Relations (GIR).
During her time with the GIR, Ms. Lepine has been responsible for overseeing all government and industry consultation pertaining to resource development that may impact the Mikisew Cree, managing hundreds of government and industry consultation files, some of which include six oil sands regulatory interventions and judicial reviews. She has led the development of consultation protocols and guidelines, numerous traditional land use studies and is one of the key negotiators of impact benefit agreements.
Ms. Lepine is also quite proud to have initiated a community-based environmental monitoring program, cultural impact assessments, land use plans and indigenous knowledge studies.
Her family and community traditional teachings in environmental stewardship at a young age motivated her to advance studies in environmental conservation sciences at the University of Alberta.
Melody is now currently enrolled in the Environment and Management Masters of Science program at Royal Roads University. This balance of teachings in both traditional environmental knowledge and western science has become Melody’s key strength in her professional career.
Dr. Leroy Little Bear
Dr. Leroy Little Bear is Senior Advisor to the President of Aboriginal Initiatives at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Born and raised on the Blood Indian Reserve (Kainai First Nation), approximately 70 kilometres west of Lethbridge. Dr. Little Bear was one of the first Indigenous students to complete a program of study at the University of Lethbridge, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1971. He continued his education at the College of Law, University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, completing a Juris Doctor Degree in 1975.
Following his graduation, Little Bear returned to his alma mater as a founding member of Canada’s first Native American Studies Department. He remained at the University of Lethbridge as a researcher, faculty member and department chair until his official retirement in 1997.
In recent years Little Bear has continued his influential work as an advocate for First Nations education. From January 1998 to June 1999 he served as Director of the Harvard University Native American Program. Upon his return to Canada, he was instrumental in the creation of a Bachelor of Management in First Nations Governance at the University of Lethbridge -- the only program of its kind in the country.
In the spring of 2003, Little Bear was awarded the prestigious National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Education, the highest honour bestowed by Canada’s First Nations community.
After a lifetime of educational service, Little Bear remains a dedicated and dynamic teacher and mentor to students and faculty at the University of Lethbridge. He continues to pursue new research interests including North American Indian science and Western physics, and the exploration of Blackfoot knowledge through songs, stories and landscape.
Chief Dr. Wilton Littlechild
Chief Wilton (Willie) Littlechild was honoured by being appointed the Honorary Chief for the Maskwacis Crees and also honoured by the Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations as the International Chief for Treaty No. 6 Confederacy. Elected by the Chiefs of Treaties 6, 7, 8 (Alberta) as the Regional Chief for the three Treaty territories in October of 2006 to serve a three-year term.
He is a respected lawyer and operates the law firm of J. Wilton Littlechild, Barrister and Solicitor, which is situated in the Ermineskin Reserve. He is a strong advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and promoter of implementation of the treaties between the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Crown, now represented by the federal government. Chief Littlechild also served as the Chairperson for the Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform, mandated to review the justice system in the province of Saskatchewan.
Chief Littlechild served as a Member of Parliament from 1988 to 1993 for the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimbey. He served on several senior committees in the House of Commons and was a parliamentary delegate to the United Nations. Chief Littlechild organized a coalition of Indigenous Nations that sought and gained consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. He was re-appointed by the ECOSOC President to represent North America and has completed his second and final term as the North American representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
In 1976, Chief Wilton Littlechild had the distinction of being the first Treaty First Nation person to acquire his law degree from the University of Alberta. He received his Bachelor of Physical Education Degree in 1967 and his Master’s Degree in Physical Education in 1975. In June of 2007, the University of Alberta bestowed the Doctor of Laws Degree on Chief Littlechild for his outstanding achievements.
An avid sportsman and athlete, Chief Littlechild has won more than fifty provincial, regional, national and international championships. He has served as a coach and organizer of sports event – being a founder of the North American Indigenous games; and has been inducted into seven Sports Halls of Fame.
He is married to Helen Peacock, and is the father of three children: Teddi, Neil and Megan.
Dr. Henry Lickers
Dr. Henry Lickers is a member of Seneca Nation, Turtle Clan. He has been the Director of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Department of the Environment for the past 33 years and is now the Environmental Science Officer. During this time, he has been principle investigator on the EAGLE (Effects on Aboriginals in the Great Lakes Environment) Project and the Naturalized Knowledge Systems Project and the First Nation’s Community Health Indicators Project. All of these projects are investigating First Nations Environmental issues.
Dr. Lickers was also one of the contributors to the First Nation Environment Assessment Toolkit for Ontario, Chiefs of Ontario.
He has been married for 45 years and has three grown children.
Connect with the Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel, by contacting the Office of the Chief Scientist:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
10th Floor, 9888 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 5C6