Indigenous cultural heritage policies often include the following components:
- Introducing the community or Nation
- Providing definitions
- Outlining the policy
- Sharing contact information
The example policy outline below is an example of how these components could be organized and expanded in an ICH policy:
Introducing the Community or Nation
Provide information on who the community’s ancestors and current members are
- Who were the community’s ancestors?
- What are community members’ strengths?
- Who are their animal and plant relatives?
- What are the community’s creation stories and laws?
- What did they do to create and protect their ICH?
Provide information on the traditional territory
- Explain how community members use the resources on their territory.
- Include a map and explain shared territory.
- Share a story about why the people love their land.
Provide historical context
- Include history and examples of how ICH has been disrespected in the past and today.
- Include history and examples of how ICH has been protected in the past and today.
Make a statement about the importance of cultural heritage
- Explain the components of ICH that are important to the community or Nation.
- Describe how historical relationships to ICH connect to contemporary relationships to ICH.
An ICH policy can define different types of cultural heritage that are important to the community, both broad and specific.
- Explain how the community defines ICH.
- List the key ICH components that define community members’ shared culture.
- Provide definitions for these components.
Example of a definition of a specific type of ICH site
A Transformer site is a place on the land that carries important spiritual significance for ceremonial purposes or is deeply tied to origin stories.
Transformer sites are important places in our territory because they are a continuous presence of our ancestors and our cultural practices.
Outlining the Policy
- Explain the policy and the guidelines recommended within it.
- Discuss proper ways of interacting with ICH that align with the community’s laws and protocols.
- Provide information on what to do if ICH is treated with disrespect.
- If relevant, connect the ICH policy to any other relevant community policies, for instance climate adaptation policies, or land use bylaws.
Example of policy guidelines around a specific type of ICH site
Transformer Sites are sacred sites with a high significance for our people. Transformer Sites should be provided the highest level of protection. These sites should be avoided in any development or any other activities that may impact them. If a Transformer Site is disrupted, immediately contact the ICH policy team.
Sharing Contact Information
Provide information on the Nation, ICH management team or individual to contact about the policy.
Example of contact information for an ICH Manager
Sarah Pierre, Heritage Manager
Example First Nation
Key lessons: Steps for building a good foundation for cultural heritage policies and initiatives
- Ground policies in your community’s worldview.
- Define what culture and heritage mean to your community.
- Allow your policies to inform your community’s initiatives.
- Be aware of your community’s responsibilities for stewardship.
- Ensure policies are actionable within the laws that impact your community.
Protecting ICH From Impacts
An ICH policy may include information on how to protect different heritage resources. Since damage to ICH cannot always be prevented, a policy can identify options and priorities for management and mitigation, including ways to minimize harm to ICH. Impacts to ICH would have to be approved by the Nation first.
When considering the different acceptable ways in which ICH may be impacted, communities may want to take into account:
- The cultural value of the ICH to the community
- The risk to the ICH resource
- Ways to protect the resource (for example, legal protection, documentation or recording, safeguarding)