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The right to burn: barriers and opportunities for Indigenous-led fire stewardship in Canada

A man watches while his daughter adds some long grass to a controlled burn on the ground.
Indigenous fire practitioner and co-author Russell Myers Ross burning with his daughter in April 2021.

Indigenous Peoples across (what is now) Canada have used fire as a tool to manage resources and protect their communities for millennia.

Fire was used for many reasons­ — like increasing the productivity of specific plants for food and medicine, attracting game for hunting, engaging in ceremony, and protecting communities from out-of-control wildfires.

Read the open access paper on the FACETS website.

These practices are specific to the Nations they belong to and were banned as settlers brought in widespread fire suppression and exclusion policies.

Although Indigenous Peoples have maintained and continue to be keepers of fire knowledge, significant barriers exist to revitalize Indigenous fire stewardship.

We outline five key barriers to advancing Indigenous-led fire stewardship in Canada and provide calls to action to communicate the benefits of cultural fire, eliminate misconceptions surrounding its application, and create space for other ways of interacting with and understanding fire.

The future and co-existence of fire in Canada needs to be a shared responsibility and led by Indigenous Peoples in their communities and across their broader territories.

Read the paper — The right to burn: barriers and opportunities for Indigenous-led fire stewardship in Canada by Kira M. Hoffman, Amy Cardinal Christianson, Sarah Dickson-Hoyle, Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz, William Nikolakis, David A. Diabo, Robin McLeod, Herman J. Michell, Abdullah Al Mamun, Alex Zahara, Nicholas Mauro, Joe Gilchrist, Russell Myers Ross, and Lori D. Daniels




FACETS is a multidisciplinary open access science journal. www.facetsjournal.com

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