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A First Nations-led social innovation: a moose, a gold mining company, and a policy window

Daniel D. P. McCarthy, University of Waterloo
Martin Millen, Anishanaabe Maamwaye Aki Kiigayewin
Mary Boyden, Porcupine Gold Mines
Erin Alexiuk, University of Waterloo
Graham S. Whitelaw, Queen’s University
Leela Viswanathan, Queen’s University
Dorothy Larkman, University of Waterloo
Giidaakunadaad (Nancy) Rowe, University of Waterloo
Frances R. Westley, University of Waterloo


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A recent focusing event involving the death of a moose in the Dome open-pit mine in the community of Timmins, in northern Ontario, Canada has triggered the opening of a policy window related to the governance of resource extraction by indigenous peoples. This event,
combined with several other factors, including: (1) the high price of gold; (2) a mining company seeking to demonstrate corporate social responsibility to repair its international reputation with indigenous peoples by supporting an innovative, local Indigenous-led initiative; and (3) a new policy context, including Supreme Court of Canada decisions and provisions in the updated Ontario Mining Act, that require meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples has led to the emergence of a indigenous peoples-led collaborative, social innovation. This policy window allowed for the formation of an unprecedented council of indigenous knowledge holders (elders) and traditional practitioners to help inform mine restoration and practice as well as to foster the resurgence of traditional language and culture in local indigenous communities. Here, we document this unprecedented social change opportunity.

Key words

critical indigenous research; indigenous-led innovation; policy window; social innovation; traditional knowledge

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087