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. 


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

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


Bill 6, The National Research Centre For Truth And Reconciliation Act. 4th Sess., 40th Parl, Manitoba, 2015 (assented to n.d). CCSM c N20. https://canlii.ca/t/52gvq.

Bill 41, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, 4th Sess, 41st Parl, British Columbia, 2019 (assented to 28 November 2019), SBC 2019, c 44. https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/bills/billsprevious/4th41st:gov41-3.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, and Information Resource Network. 2012. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives, and Information Services.” https://web.archive.org/web/20150226062410/http://aiatsis.gov.au/atsilirn/protocols.php.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 2011. “Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies.” https://web.archive.org/web/20150212024933/http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/_files/research/ethics.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/4SMS-SAQZ.

Ames, Michael M. 1992. Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Anderson, Jane. 2010. “Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge & Intellectual Property.” Durham, NC: Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke University School of Law. https://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/itkpaper/.

Anderson, Jane, and Kim Christen. 2012. “Traditional Knowledge Licences and Labels.” Art+ Law 4 (December): 42–44. https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.070155692801999.

Anderson, Jane, and Kimberly Christen. 2013. “‘Chuck a Copyright on It’: Dilemmas of Digital Return and the Possibilities for Traditional Knowledge Licenses and Labels.” In “After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge,” special issue, Museum Anthropology Review 7 (1–2): 105–26. https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/article/view/2169/4251. Archived at: https://perma.cc/LJ8U-CWTW.

Assembly of First Nations, and Canadian Museums Association. 1992. “Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples.” Museum Anthropology 16 (2): 12–20. https://doi.org/10.1525/mua.1992.16.2.12.

Bains, Navdeep, and Mélanie Joly. 2017. Letter from the Ministers in Relation to the Copyright Act. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU). House of Commons Canada. https://www.ourcommons.ca/content/Committee/421/INDU/WebDoc/WD9706058/421_INDU_reldoc_PDF/INDU_DeptIndustryDeptCanadianHeritage_CopyrightAct-e.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/EMA2-UYTW.

Battiste, Marie. 2005. “Indigenous Knowledge: Foundations for First Nations.” WINHEC: International Journal of Indigenous Education Scholarship 1: 1–17. https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/winhec/article/view/19251.

Battiste, Marie, and James (Sa’ke’J) Youngblood Henderson. 2000. Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage. Saskatoon, SK: Purich Publishing.

Barsh, Russel Lawrence, and James Youngblood Henderson. 1996. “The Supreme Court’s Van der Peet Trilogy: Naive Imperialism and Ropes of Sand.” McGill Law Journal 42 (4): 993–1009. 1997 CanLIIDocs 44. https://canlii.ca/t/2bg7.

Borrows, John. “Introduction.” 2019. In Braiding Legal Orders: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, edited by John Borrows, Larry Chartrand, Oonagh E. Fitzgerald, and Risa Schwartz, n.p. Waterloo, ON: Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Breidlid, Anders, and Roy Krøvel, eds. 2020. Indigenous Knowledges and the Sustainable Development Agenda. New York, NY: Routledge, 2020. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367853785.

Calder v Attorney-General of British Columbia, [1973] SCR 313. https://decisions.scc-csc.ca/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/5113/1/document.do

Callison, Camille. 2014. “Indigenous Peoples’ New Canoe.” In Aboriginal and Visible Minority Librarians: Oral Histories from Canada, edited by Deborah Lee and Mahalakshmi Kumaran, 135–46. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Callison, Camille, Loriene Roy, and Gretchen Alice LeCheminant, eds. 2016. Indigenous Notions of Ownership and Libraries, Archives and Museums. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uvic/detail.action?docID=4595483.

CFLA–FCAB. 2017. Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations. http://cfla-fcab.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Truth-and-Reconciliation-Committee-Report-and-Recommendations.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/KZ6K-B86Y.

CFLA–FCAB. 2018. Position Statement: Indigenous Knowledge in Canada’s Copyright Act. Approved 27, 2018. http://cfla-fcab.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/CFLA-FCAB_Indigenous_knowledge_statement.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/B7NG-DA86.

CFLA–FCAB. 2019. Canadian Libraries Commend the Parliamentary Review of the Copyright Act. http://cfla-fcab.ca/en/advocacy/canadian-libraries-commend-the-parliamentary-review-of-the-copyright-act/. June 14, 2019. Archived at: https://perma.cc/2QAX-YBVJ.

CCH Canadian Ltd v Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13. https://decisions.scc-csc.ca/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/2125/1/document.do.

Canadian Museum of Human Rights. n.d. “Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket.” Accessed February 19, 2021. https://humanrights.ca/story/picking-up-the-pieces-the-making-of-the-witness-blanket. Archived at: https://perma.cc/Z8ED-CLJQ

Christen, Kimberly, Michael Wynne, and Alana Pollack. 2019. “Introduction to Mukurtu CMS: Connecting and Sharing Cultural Collections and Language Materials.” ScholarSpace. University of Hawai’i at Manoa. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/44888.

Christen, Kimberly. 2015. “Tribal Archives, Traditional Knowledge, and Local Contexts: Why the ‘s’ Matters.” Journal of Western Archives 6 (1): Article 3. https://doi.org/10.26077/78d5-47cf.

Christen, Kimberly, Alex Merrill, and Michael Wynne. 2017. “A Community of Relations: Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes.” D-Lib Magazine 23 (5–6). https://doi.org/10.1045/may2017-christen.

The Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/11/schedule/B.

Copyright Act, RSC 1985, c C-42. https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-42/FullText.html.

Dei, George J. Sefa. 2000. “Rethinking the Role of Indigenous Knowledges in the Academy.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 4 (2): 111–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/136031100284849.

Deloria Jr., Vine. 1978. “The Right to Know: A Paper.” Prepared for the White House Pre-Conference on Indian Library and Information Services on or Near Reservations. Office of Library and Information Services, US Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Department of Justice Canada. 2018. Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/principles.pdf. Archived at https://perma.cc/7VSA-QEB9.

ENRICH. n.d. “About.” ENRICH: Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation Coordinating Hub. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://www.enrich-hub.org/about. Archived at: https://perma.cc/RQ2M-Y93J.

ENRICH. n.d. “The Biocultural Label Initiative.” ENRICH: Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation Coordinating Hub. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://www.enrich-hub.org/bc-labels. Archived at: https://perma.cc/C6BA-BJ5K.

Expert Group on Indigenous Matters. 2019. Tandanya - Adelaide Declaration. International Council on Archives. https://www.ica.org/sites/default/files/tandaya_adelaide_declaration_eng.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/BY4K-VKJS.

Fedio, Chloe. 2015. “Truth and Reconciliation Brings Calls for Action, Not Words." CBC News, June 2, 2015. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/truth-and-reconciliation-report-brings-calls-for-action-not-words-1.3096863

First Archivist Circle. 2007. Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. https://www2.nau.edu/libnap-p/protocols.html. Archived at: https://perma.cc/3ZVT-349F.

Friedland, Hadley, and Val Napoleon. 2015. “Gathering the Threads: Developing a Methodology for Researching and Rebuilding Indigenous Legal Traditions.” Lakehead Law Journal 1 (1): 16–44. 2015 CanLIIDocs 4876. https://canlii.ca/t/sjzn.

Global Indigenous Data Alliance. 2019. “CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance.” GIDA: Global Indigenous Data Alliance. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://www.gida-global.org/care. Archived at: https://perma.cc/5KCK-5FYX.

Hernandez, Jessica, and Sandy Littletree. 2011. “The Diversity Imperative for Cultivating 21st Century Librarians: The Knowledge River Model.” World Library and Information Congress: 77th International Federation of Library Associations General Conference and Assembly. http://origin-www.ifla.org/past-wlic/2011/97-hernandez-en.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/Q4ST-ATT6.

House of Commons. 2019. Statutory Review of the Copyright Act: Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. June 2019. Chair: Dan Ruimy. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/INDU/report-16/page-87. Archived at https://perma.cc/D6GV-6DSM.

Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 2009. “Sacred Bentwood Box Arrives at the TRC.” Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission Newsletter. Spring 2009. http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/TRC_News_Spring09.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/FSW4-KUXW.

Johnson, Rebecca. 2020. “Implementing Indigenous Law in Agreements - Learning from ‘An Agreement Concerning the Stewardship of the Witness Blanket.’” Reconciliation Syllabus: A TRC-Inspired Gathering of Materials for Teaching Law. January 31, 2020. https://reconciliationsyllabus.wordpress.com/2020/01/31/implementing-indigenous-law-in-agreements-learning-from-an-agreement-concerning-the-stewardship-of-the-witness-blanket/. Archived at: https://perma.cc/UW8W-BL57.

Judge, Elizabeth F. 2005. “Crown Copyright and Copyright Reform in Canada.” In In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law, edited by Michael Geist, 550–94. Toronto, ON: Irwin Law. Canadian Electronic Library/desLibris.

Kung, Eugene. 2019. “Bill 41: A New Law to Uphold Indigenous Rights in BC.” Environmental Law Alert Blog: Transforming the Legal Landscape, November 13, 2019. West Coast Environmental Law. https://www.wcel.org/blog/bill-41-new-law-uphold-indigenous-rights-in-bc. Archived at: https://perma.cc/5C2N-2MNH.

Lawson, Kimberley, L. 2004. “Precious Fragments: First Nations Materials in Archives, Libraries and Museums.” MA diss. University of British Columbia. https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0091657.

Local Contexts. n.d.a. “CI Notices.” Accessed November 25, 2020. Archived at: https://perma.cc/D2HH-38NB.

Local Contexts. n.d.b. “Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels.” Accessed November 25, 2020. Archived at: https://perma.cc/Z6ZY-8B52.

Local Contexts. n.d.c. “Collaborating/Sharing: Project in Focus.” Accessed November 28, 2020. Archived at: https://perma..cc/4EDV-YJM9.

Lougheed, Brett, Ry Moran, and Camille Callison. 2015. “Reconciliation Through Description: Using Metadata to Realize the Vision of the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53 (5–6): 596–614. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2015.1008718.

McGregor, Deborah. 2018. “Indigenous Environmental Justice, Knowledge, and Law.” Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies 5 (2): 279–96. https://doi.org/10.15367/kf.v5i2.213.

McKennitt, Daniel, and Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation. 2015. “Reconciliation Is Not an Aboriginal problem, It Is a Canadian Problem. It Involves All of Us.” As It Happens. CBC Radio. June 2, 2015. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-tuesday-edition-1.3096950/reconciliation-is-not-an-aboriginal-problem-it-is-a-canadian-problem-it-involves-all-of-us-1.3097253. Archived at: https://perma.cc/LCH6-EP8Q.

Members of the Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Taskforce. 2020. “Establishing a Framework for Reconciliation Action & Awareness Within the Canadian Archival System.” Association of Canadian Archives 20/20 Vision: Seeing Archives Differently Virtual Conference. Association of Canadian Archives.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. n.d. “Access and Privacy Policies.” University of Manitoba. Accessed February 19, 2021. https://nctr.ca/records/access-your-records/access-and-privacy-policies/. Archived at: https://perma.cc/TSS4-3BLC.

Nayyer, Kim. 2021. “Issues and Intersections of Indigenous Knowledge Protection and Copyright for Digital Humanities.” In Access, Control and Dissemination in Digital Humanities, edited by Shane Hawkins and Richard Mann. London: Routledge.

Nayyer, Kim. 2002. “Globalization of Information: Intellectual Property Law Implications.” First Monday 7 (1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v7i1.925.

Newfoundland and Labrador (Attorney General) v Uashaunnuat (Innu of Uashat and of Mani Utenam), 2020 SCC 4. https://decisions.scc-csc.ca/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/18158/index.do.

O’Neal, Jennifer R. 2015. “‘The Right to Know’: Decolonizing Native American Archives.” Journal of Western Archives 6 (1): Article 2. https://doi.org/10.26077/fc99-b022.

Pool, Ian. 2016. “Colonialism’s and Postcolonialism’s Fellow Traveller: The Collection, Use and Misuse of Data on Indigenous People.” In Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda, edited by Tahu Kukutai and John Taylor, 57–76. Sydney: ANU Press. https://doi.org/10.22459/CAEPR38.11.2016.

R v Sparrow, [1990] 1 SCR 1075. https://decisions.scc-csc.ca/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/609/1/document.do.

R v Van der Peet, [1996] 2 SCR 507. https://decisions.scc-csc.ca/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/1407/1/document.do.

Reo, Nicholas J., Kyle P. Whyte, Deborah McGregor, MA (Peggy) Smith, and James F. Jenkins. 2017. “Factors that Support Indigenous Involvement in Multi-Actor Environmental Stewardship.” AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 13 (2): 58–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/1177180117701028.

Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Taskforce. “A Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives. Draft for Public Review.” Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives. https://archives2026.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/reconciliationframeworkforarchives_july2020_en.pdf. Archived at: https://perma.cc/C3LH-8DDF.

Ross, Rupert. 2006. Dancing with a Ghost: Exploring Aboriginal Reality. Toronto, ON: Penguin.

Royal Proclamation (1763), reprinted in RSC 1985, App II, No 1.

Rowley, Susan. 2013. “The Reciprocal Research Network: The Development Process.” In “After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge,” special issue, Museum Anthropology Review 7 (1–2): 22–43. https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/article/view/2172.

Russo Carroll, Stephanie, Jane Anderson, Maui Hudson, Haak Laurel, Helena Cousijn, Randall Akee, Katharina Ruckstuhl, and Shawna Sadler. 2020. “Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Tools for Transparency.” ORCID. Presentation posted June 12, 2020. https://doi.org/10.23640/07243.12476174.v1.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd ed. London; New York: Zed Books.

Smith, Sonia. 2017. “The Creation of the CFLA/FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Committee: The First Report.” Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research 12 (1). https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v12i1.3981.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2015. Reconciliation. Vol. 6 of Canada’s Residential Schools: The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Montreal, QC; Kingston, ON; London; Chicago: McGill-Queen’s University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt19qghck.

United Nations General Assembly. 2007. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007. A/RES/61/295. https://undocs.org/A/RES/61/295. Archived at: https://perma.cc/T7ME-3NKK.

WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization. n.d.a. “Intergovernmental Committee (IGC).” Accessed February 19, 2021. http://www.wipo.int/tk/en/igc/. Archived at: https://perma.cc/2B47-9QNE.

WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization. n.d.b. “Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions.” Accessed May 19, 2021. https://www.wipo.int/tk/en/. Archived at: https://perma.cc/C4WF-SMTP.

Witness Blanket. 2015. “Witness Blanket – A National Monument to Recognize the Atrocities of Indian Residential Schools.” Accessed February 19, 2021. http://witnessblanket.ca/. Archived at: https://perma.cc/4F4R-NFV8.

Younging, Greg. 2016. “The Traditional Knowledge – Intellectual Property Interface.” In Indigenous Notions of Ownership and Libraries, Archives and Museums, edited by Camille Callison, Loriene Roy, Gretchen Alice LeCheminant, 67–74. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110363234.




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.

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.