Getting Started with Indigenous Cultural Heritage Planning

Reasons for Starting an ICH Initiative

Communities start ICH initiatives for many reasons. Some reasons for starting an ICH initiative include:

  • A need to protect an aspect of a community’s ICH: There may be an ICH site that is under threat or being misused, and the community may decide to take action to protect it through a specific initiative.
  • Community interest: Community members may want to revitalize, protect or share their ICH. Community interest is key to starting and maintaining an ICH initiative.
  • A desire to assert a community’s rights to steward their ICH: Developing an ICH initiative is an important way to assert a community’s or Nation’s sovereign right to protect and control their ICH.
  • A development project that may impact ICH: Industry is required by federal, provincial and often Indigenous governments to consult with local First Nations to determine whether proposed projects will impact ICH. This can be an opportunity for communities to assert their rights and autonomy by developing Indigenous policies and guidelines to protect ICH.
  • A desire to educate the general public: There may be aspects of communities’ ICH that the public interacts with regularly, such as burial grounds in a provincial park. Communities may want to educate the public through signage, public workshops or other ways. These education activities could be delivered through an ICH initiative.
  • A community planning process: Communities may be undertaking land-use planning, comprehensive planning or strategic planning. Addressing ICH is often a component of these plans, and planning processes may identify a need to create an ICH initiative.

Examples of cultural heritage initiatives

  • A cultural landscape that is part of a seasonal round, with trails, sites and stories associated with it, and which is actively managed and monitored by a Nation or several Nations
  • A park that is home to an important ICH site and is managed by a Nation as an Indigenous-led conservation space where community members can practice traditional activities
  • A website that teaches youth and the public about cultural heritage
  • A system of signs that tell visitors to your territory about your cultural heritage
  • Repatriation of ancestors or belongings to a Nation or community
  • Policies that protect Indigenous intellectual property and traditional knowledge
  • An Indigenous museum or cultural place that is used to revitalize and celebrate ICH
  • Collaboration between a Nation and a museum in creating exhibits about the Nation’s ICH
  • Formalized networks that connect Indigenous stakeholders around protecting ICH

A cultural heritage initiative is focused on whatever Indigenous communities need to protect, revitalize and celebrate their cultural heritage.