Benefits of Indigenous Cultural Heritage Stewardship

The benefits of ICH stewardship can be experienced at the community level, and more broadly, as knowledge about ICH and the imperatives to protect and celebrate it through Indigenous-led initiatives are shared beyond Indigenous communities and Nations. Some of the specific benefits of ICH stewardship include:

  • Stronger Nations and People: ICH stewardship fosters a stronger sense of collective and individual identity, helping to build pride and wellness.


Three Indigenous groups in Treaty 8 territory of B.C. purchased and reclaimed their sacred site, Tse’K’wa, formerly called the Charlie Lake Cave site. This sacred 12,000-year-old site is now actively used by the Nations, school groups and others to celebrate their collective identity and demonstrate thousands of years of ceremony and traditions.

  • Education: Sharing about ICH empowers Indigenous people to protect, revitalize and celebrate their heritage, while also informing wider publics about the history and continued value of ICH.


Workshops and trainings offer a place to learn about traditional practices and knowledge, which helps revitalize ICH. This type of education also sparks community connections. For example, in Stanley Park in Vancouver, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers lead community members on a forest walk that teaches people about traditional uses of flora and fauna.

  • Leadership: When space is made for Indigenous voices to be truly heard and heeded, Indigenous Peoples can shape and guide their own futures, including leading initiatives that direct how their ICH is protected and shared.


FPCC held a forum at which 43 ICH experts shared their experiences and challenges and discussed the future of ICH in B.C. This provided an opportunity for Indigenous people to share their voices and inform government policy and decision making. The results of the forum were published in the Report on the First Peoples’ Cultural Council Indigenous Cultural Heritage Forum.

  • Autonomy and Indigenous Rights: ICH policies and Indigenous permitting systems have created the conditions for Indigenous autonomy by establishing the jurisdiction to oversee ICH and determine how others interact with it.


The Stó:lō Heritage Investigation Permit Application requires accountability from parties wanting to engage with Stó:lō heritage.

  • Revitalization: Strengthening and celebrating Indigenous culture is a key benefit of ICH stewardship. When Indigenous peoples can help strengthen their culture and bring back aspects of it that have been impacted by colonization, their health and well-being will improve.


The Taku River Tlingit in Northern B.C. have created a place name map, asserting the rightful names of the places in their territory. Re-establishing Indigenous place names is a powerful way to include and recognize ICH for the benefit of Indigenous peoples and the public.

  • Innovation Grounded in Tradition: Indigenous peoples have longstanding traditions from their ancestors, but they are also adaptive and innovative and create new ways of approaching their cultural heritage.


The Musqueam Nation has stopped using the term “artifacts” in favour of “belongings.” This small change in language has helped people realize that these belongings aren’t just things of the past, but are also very real and important to people today.

Reflecting on ICH Stewardship

Now that toolkit users have reflected on the ways that ICH can be expressed and its values to communities and Nations, they can carry these reflections forward when creating an ICH initiative. Some questions they may ask themselves include:

  • What is ICH?
  • How is ICH important to you and where you come from?
  • How can ICH stewardship make positive changes in your community?
  • What is an example of ICH stewardship that you have seen being carried out in a good way?
  • Why is it important for ICH to be managed according to your community’s laws, protocols and traditions?