Living Lands and Indigenous Climate Solutions:
Responsibilities beyond Territorial Acknowledgements



Local Indigenous knowledge holders Cheryl Bryce, Tiffany Joseph, Marilyn Olsen-Page and Judith Sayers gathered for a special online campus conversation on Indigenous approaches to climate solutions, sustainability and well-being. What does the living history of the lands and waters in around UVic tell us about traditional land-use, colonial impacts and the interdependence we share with these systems? They shared how coastal peoples are addressing the challenges of climate change in their communities and the transformative opportunity of moving beyond ‘Territorial Acknowledgments’ to action that is grounded in our relationship to the land and our shared responsibility to its restoration and stewardship.

Facilitated by: Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee Nation) Associate Professor with the  Indigenous Studies Program and Acting Director of UVic’s Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE).


  • Cheryl Bryce (Knowledge holder, community researcher and educator in Kwetlal (camus) food systems from the Songhees First Nation. 
  • ŚW̱,XELOSELWET Tiffany Joseph, educator, writer and young knowledge carrier of historical and plant and ecosystem knowledge (Sḵx̱wu7mesh (Fresh Water people) and W̱SÁNEĆ (Saltwater people, Emerging people)
  • Marylin Olsen-Page: MENEȽOT shares teachings of plant medicines with people of all ages, and conducts geographical, historical and linguistic research. She is a respected knowledge carrier from the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation who has worked extensively with W̱SÍḴEM.
  • Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers, is from Hupacasath First Nation and a long-time Indigenous rights and sustainable development advocate. Dr. Sayers is Chancellor at Vancouver Island University, President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, and an adjunct professor at UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business.

Introduced by: Sybil Seitzinger, Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

This event was part of a suite of research and learning activity to support awareness and understanding of Indigenous approaches to climate solutions. The event is sponsored by the Climate Solutions Navigator (CSN) and is an accelerated action in support of UVic’s developing 22-26 Climate and Sustainability Action Plan

Photo used with permission from Shanna Baker/Hakai Magazine.


‘Living Lands’ proposal development


As an immediate impact from the event,  a full ‘Campus a Living Lands’ proposal was developed and submitted for funding from UVic’s Strategic Impact Fund (SFIF) on May 6, 2021. SFIF funding for the project was confirmed on June 30, 2021.

 The proposal was written by Jeff Corntassel, Nancy Shackelford (Director of UVic’s Restoration of Natural Systems Program) and CSN team member Tara Todesco. It was informed by early discussions with the CSN working group, the knowledge and insights shared by the Indigenous speakers at the February 24 online event, engagement with additional local Indigenous knowledge holders and Elders carried out by Jeff Corntassel, and through discussions with Indigenous leaders on campus, including Robina Thomas.

This three-year project (July 2021-June 2024) will support a suite of land-based learning opportunities, informed by an advisory composed of Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ knowledge holders, and members of the UVic Indigenous faculty and student community.

Read the report here