Traditional Knowledge Protocols

Traditional knowledge is essential to Aboriginal communities. Protocols have been developed by many organizations for traditional knowledge sharing.  Traditional knowledge is peer reviewed by the people providing input and contributes to a greater understanding and analysis of the environment. Traditional knowledge is considered valid in law in the western world.


Government of the Northwest Territories Traditional Knowledge Best Practices Summary outlines best practices for gathering and applying traditional knowledge in the North:

  1. Understand and acknowledge the value of traditional knowledge
  2. Establish and apply appropriate definitions of traditional knowledge
  3. Ensure the protection of sensitive information
  4. Adhere to community-based protocols
  5. Ensure community engagement
  6. Ensure informed consent
  7. Ensure local ownership and control of information
  8. Interpret and present traditional knowledge in the appropriate cultural context
  9. Provide benefits for the use of traditional knowledge
  10. Follow formal research licensing guidelines
  11. Establish clear communication and reporting links

As part of the implementation of  Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (the Water Strategy), an inventory of all traditional knowledge protocols developed by Aboriginal governments or organizations began in 2011. The following protocols were compiled:

Ongoing work to develop and implement processes that promote the use of traditional knowledge in ways that help ensure water stewardship activities respect community values will continue.


Other examples of traditional knowledge use in the Northwest Territories (NWT) decision making:

Northern River Basin Study

“The NRBS Board negotiated a formal agreement with the Grand Council of Treaty 8 First Nations for researchers to collect information and chronicle the traditional environmental knowledge of many native peoples residing within the basins.” (Northern River Basin Study)


Peace-Athabasca Delta Environmental Monitoring Program

“The design of the monitoring program will incorporate the most current and best understanding of both western science and traditional ecological knowledge.” (Environment Canada) 


Environmental Impact Assessment

The  Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) outlines: "In exercising its powers, the Review Board shall consider any traditional knowledge and scientific information that is made available to it”. (MVRMA s. 115.1)


Regulatory Boards

“The LWBs [land and water boards] use traditional knowledge to make decisions on preliminary screenings, in setting the terms and conditions of water licences and land use permits, and in the review and approval of some plans required under licences and permits.” (2010 NWT Environmental Audit)


Renewable Resource Boards

“Local and traditional knowledge is used to identify management issues, plan research and develop management plans”. (for wildlife, protected areas, land and water use permitting) (Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board)


Land Use Planning Boards

Traditional knowledge is used in land use planning to set land use zones and to identify particular conditions that must be adhered to for certain land uses.”  (2010 NWT Environmental Audit)