Engaging Respectfully with Indigenous Knowledges

Copyright, Customary Law, and Cultural Memory Institutions in Canada





Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge, copyright, copyright review, Indigenous ownership, libraries, archives, cultural memory


This paper contributes to building respectful relationships between Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) peoples and Canada's cultural memory institutions, such as libraries, archives and museums, and applies to knowledge repositories that hold tangible and intangible traditional knowledge. The central goal of the paper is to advance understandings to allow cultural memory institutions to respect, affirm, and recognize Indigenous ownership of their traditional and living Indigenous knowledges and to respect the protocols for their use. This paper honours the spirit of reconciliation through the joint authorship of people from Indigenous, immigrant, and Canadian heritages. The authors outline the traditional and living importance of Indigenous knowledges; describe the legal framework in Canada, both as it establishes a system of enforceable copyright and as it recognizes Indigenous rights, self-determination, and the constitutional protections accorded to Indigenous peoples; and recommend an approach for cultural memory institutions to adopt and recognize Indigenous ownership of their knowledges, languages, cultures, and histories by developing protocols with each unique Indigenous nation. 


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Author Biographies

Camille Callison, University of the Fraser Valley

Camille Callison (Tāłtān Nation) is the University Librarian at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). Until June 2021, she was the Indigenous Strategies Librarian at the University of Manitoba. She is a PhD student (Anthropology), IFLA Indigenous Matters Section (Chair), IEEE P2890™ Recommended Practice for Provenance of Indigenous Peoples’ Data (Secretary), UM Anthropology Repatriation Committee (Co-Chair) and member of TRC Taskforce on Archives, NISO Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion subcommittee and OCLC Reimagine Descriptive Workflows Advisory Group. Past service includes Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB) founding board member and Chair of the Indigenous Matters and the Truth & Reconciliation Committees.

Ann Ludbrook, Ryerson University

Ann is the Copyright and Scholarly Engagement Librarian at Ryerson University and was the co-chair of the CFLA Indigenous Matters Committee - Indigenous Protection/Copyright group for 2 years with Camille Calliston. She is interested in open education, open access issues, and copyright issues pertaining to library issues and teaching.

Victoria Owen, University of Toronto

Victoria Owen holds the position of Information Policy Scholar-Practitioner in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Her background is in library administration at the University of Toronto, and in special and public libraries. Victoria holds a Master’s in Library Science and a Master’s in Law, specializing in intellectual property. Her teaching and research focus is in information policy, copyright and the public interest. She is the chair of the Canadian Federation of Library Association’s Copyright Committee, a member of WIPO’s Accessible Book Consortium Board and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries policy committee.

Kim Nayyer, Cornell University

Kim Nayyer is the Edward Cornell Law Librarian, Associate Dean for Library Services, and Professor of the Practice at Cornell University, which is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation), members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Kim’s research and teaching interests include comparative copyright and knowledge protection; diversity, inclusion, decolonization, and anti-racism in the legal and information professions; critical legal information literacy; and data ethics. Previously, Kim practiced law in Ontario and Alberta. She has spoken, written, and taught on intersections of copyright and Indigenous knowledge in a variety of disciplines nationally and internationally. ORCID identifier 0000-0001-6733-4417


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How to Cite

Callison, Camille, Ann Ludbrook, Victoria Owen, and Kim Nayyer. 2021. “Engaging Respectfully With Indigenous Knowledges: Copyright, Customary Law, and Cultural Memory Institutions in Canada”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 5 (1). https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.146.