Indigenous peoples have been governing marine territories using their own legal traditions since time immemorial. For the most part, Indigenous legal orders have not been recognized or upheld in the governance of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada.
The current Government of Canada has committed to “a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.” Co-governance arrangements in MPAs are one way of achieving a true nation-to-nation or Inuit-to-Crown relationship by creating space for the healthy interaction of Canadian and Indigenous laws. With the Government of Canada’s renewed commitment to protect at least 10% of Canada’s oceans by 2020, there is a unique opportunity to implement co-governance arrangements in both new and established MPAs.
This backgrounder explores opportunities for co-governance of MPAs between Indigenous nations and the Crown in Canada, sharing existing examples of co-governance in marine spaces.