Developing A Plan for an Indigenous Cultural Heritage Initiative

Once the community has been engaged, and the ICH team has considered community input and values and decided on the type of ICH initiative they are going to undertake, it is time to develop a plan to turn those ideas into action!

This section describes four key tasks in developing an ICH Plan:

Questions to consider when developing an ICH initiative

  • What kind of initiative does the community want to start?
  • What are the best ways to engage with the community?
  • What is the first step in creating an ICH initiative?
  • Who in the community may be the best “champion(s)” for leading this initiative?
  • How might an ICH initiative help fulfill other broad community goals?

Developing a Vision Statement

Developing a community vision can be a great way to bring community members together at the beginning of an ICH planning process and to ensure everyone starts from a shared understanding. The resources at this link may be useful as ICH teams work with their community to develop a vision statement.

Suggested steps in this process are:

1. Brainstorm ideas, key words and phrases for the vision

  • This might be done at a community meeting, a meeting with Elders or Knowledge Keepers, or during ICH team discussions.
  • The community may have developed a vision statement for other work. If possible, review existing vision statements to see how they may be adapted for an ICH project.
  • Do not worry about writing the vision word-for-word at this point. The purpose is to gather information and suggestions to use later to draft a description of the community’s vision.

2. Draft two or three example visions

  • The ICH team may choose to develop a statement that describes the community’s vision in a sentence or two. They may also choose to use a story, description or set of words to describe the community’s vision.
  • The ICH team might want to draft a few versions of the community’s vision based on the information gathered from the community meeting.

3. Host a community meeting and present the draft visions for review and input

  • Invite the community to discuss which description of the vision they like the best and make edits as needed.
  • Combine and adjust the descriptions until there is agreement on how to express the community’s vision.

Tips on developing a vision statement

  • Simple, specific, and powerful: A vision statement should be a bold, yet realistic vision of the community’s future as it relates to ICH.
  • Aligned with community goals: Align the vision for ICH with the greater vision of the community and/or Nation.
  • Easy to read: A vision statement should be one or two sentences at the most. It should be easy to read and sound natural when shared with people.
  • Memorable: A vision statement should be strong and memorable. It should resonate with and instill pride among community members.

Questions to consider when setting goals

Remember: smaller, short-term steps can pave the way for the bigger, long-term goals!

Setting goals requires thinking about the community’s dreams and aspirations at a high level. Steps to set goals can include the following:

  1. Review: Review the community context, vision statement and other information gathered to this point. Consider the community’s interests, needs, strengths, and the challenges that could impact ICH work.
  2. Discuss: Consider the question: What are the big goals the ICH team and the broader community wants to accomplish? Discuss this question among the team and with the community and gather ideas about potential goals.
  3. Organize and prioritize: Once a list of goals has been developed, the ICH team may need to sort and organize them depending on how many there are. Similar goals may be grouped together. Goals can be organized based on similarities and themes.
  4. Finalize: Once the ICH goals are sorted and organized, the team can review them together, and may want to present them to the community.

Tips on developing goals

  • Aim to have between 3 and 5 goals for an ICH plan. If it is difficult to narrow the goals, the ICH team could think about whether some goals are actually two parts of the same idea, or if some would be better as activities.
  • Goals are typically written as statements that describe an outcome the community hopes to achieve.
  • Goals should directly relate to the plan’s vision.

Planning Activities

With the goals defined, the next step in ICH initiative planning is to determine what types of activities needs to happen in order to achieve the goals. Activities explain the specific steps or actions that will take place to reach the ICH project’s stated goals. Activities are typically written as action words that describe what the ICH team will do to meet its goals. Click here for more resources on breaking large activities into tasks.

The difference between goals and activities

When planning a program, it can sometimes be easy to confuse goals and activities.

  • Goals are desired future outcomes. For example: “Our burial sites are protected.” They are written as statements.
  • Activities are actions to achieve these goals. For example: “Create guidelines on burial sites and share them with external partners in our territory in year one of our program.” They are written using action words.

Activities should be SMART


The table below provides some examples of how goals and activities can be linked in an ICH initiative.

Young adults, including young parents, are learning about their ICH• Host monthly workshops (for example, beading, weaving, harvesting)
• Host monthly day camps (to learn about language, listen to stories, sing, dance)
The public supports and respects our ICH• Host four educational days for the community and public
• Write and circulate a monthly newsletter
Cultural belongings are returned to the community• Research museum collections to identify which institutions hold the community’s cultural belongings
• Form a repatriation planning committee
ICH sites and landscapes are recorded, managed and protected• Conduct research on ICH sites and landscapes
• Host community engagement sessions to learn about ICH sites and landscapes and to determine values and priorities for land use
• Create an inventory of ICH sites
• Draft a heritage policy
• Develop a permitting system based on the heritage policy
ICH management is community-led• Engage the community on ICH
• Mentor young community members
• Train community members to fill ICH management roles

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Creating A Workplan

Once goals and activities have been identified, a workplan is a helpful tool to bring it all together. Workplans can indicate who is responsible for completing each task, and the time frame needed to complete activities. If an activity is shared between multiple people, one person can be listed as the lead – the person who will ensure an activity is completed.

Involving everyone on an ICH Team in creating a workplan encourages accountability and commitment among team members, as well as ensuring a shared understanding of project goals and activities.

Having a clear plan for an ICH initiative will help to make it effective and communicate to others what the initiative will accomplish.

An ICH initiative workplan plan has the following elements:

  • Name: Create a name for the initiative. The name should be simple (two to three words) and speak to the initiative’s vision. Consider including the community’s language in the name.
  • Vision: Describe the future state the ICH team and community are trying to achieve.
  • Goals: List the desired outcomes.
  • Activities: Break down the goals into specific actions to be taken.
  • Who: Determine who will complete each activity.
  • When: Identify when the activities will occur.

All of these elements can come together in an initiative plan like this:

Initiative Name
(List the goals you are trying to achieve)
(List activities needed to reach the goal)
(List the people responsible for each activity)
(Dates, usually in weeks, months or years, that this activity will occur)

Click here for more detailed examples of ICH workplans.

Once the work has begun, the ICH team can always add to or change it as the initiative progresses. It is a good idea to update the initiative plan each month, as activities and timing will likely shift in response to community needs and circumstances.