Traditional Knowledge

In the Northwest Territories (NWT), there are indigenous peoples whose traditional knowledge and skills have sustained and supported them for centuries in successfully living on the land. Aboriginal traditional knowledge is a valid and essential source of information about the natural environment and its resources, the use of natural resources, and the relationship of people to the land and to each other. This knowledge has been recognized by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), in the development of its Traditional Knowledge Policy 53.03 in 1997, and in more recent planning documents like the GNWT Traditional Knowledge Policy Implementation and the Environment and Natural Resources Traditional Knowledge Implementation Plan.

Traditional knowledge can be defined as:

"Knowledge and values, which have been acquired through experience, observation, from the land or from spiritual teachings, and handed down from one generation to another." (Traditional Knowledge Policy- Implementation Framework, p1)

Traditional knowledge has helped guide the development and implementation of Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (the Water Strategy)Including traditional knowledge in water stewardship decisions is an integral part of the Water Strategy:

  • "The appropriate use and consideration of all types of knowledge, including traditional, local and western scientific, are an integral part of the Strategy and related initiatives.” (p4)
  • “Traditional knowledge (TK) provides valuable information and important guidance for all stewardship actions.”(p18)

Developing and implementing processes and protocols that promote the use of traditional knowledge in ways that help ensure activities respect community values was an important aspect of NWT Water Stewardship: A Plan for Action 2011-2015 (the Action Plan). In the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy Action Plan 2016-2020, the use of traditional and local knowledge is promoted and supported in regulatory processes, research and monitoring and within the implementation of bilateral water management agreements.

To see a map showing the official languages of the NWT( produced by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, GNWT), click on the icon.