As I work on my major project I have been wrestling with the Cyber Ethics pertaining to the education sector working with Indigenous Communities. I found a position statement regarding Indigenous Knowledge in Canada’s Copyright Act (Canadian Federation of Library Associations, 2018) that clearly defines the presenting issue.
I issue is that Canada’s Copyright Act clearly does not protect Indigenous knowledge. This is concerning for Indigenous knowledge is rooted in oral tradition and if it is not handled with due care it can result in information being altered. In the position statement it is stated that in Canadian Law, “the author of a published work holds the legal copyright to that knowledge or cultural expression, while the Indigenous peoples from whom the knowledge originated have lost their ownership rights”.
So in reality it could be said that Canada’s current Copyright Act is directly in conflict with how Indigenous nations view copyright ownership. The question that should be discussed is who are the true owners of Indigenous knowledge? Is it the author who writes about Indigenous knowledge or the Indigenous people/community? The Copyright Act would say the owner would be the author. Through the eyes of the Indigenous community would say that their cultural knowledge has been stolen.
The Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) completed a Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report in 2017. In the report it provided 10 recommendations in regards to how to move forward in a manner that respects Indigenous culture and increases the access of traditional Indigenous knowledge. On a particular note, recommendation 8 should be noted in particular when applying it to how the public education sector and how it should work with Indigenous communities in order to ensure the highest care is in place when dealing with Indigenous culture. Recommendation 8 stresses the importance of having protocols and agreements in place with local and other Indigenous groups. This pertains to Indigenous heritage that would include the following: oral traditions, songs, dance, storytelling, anecdotes, lace names, and “all other forms of Indigenous knowledges” (Canadian Federation of Library Associations Truth and Reconciliation Committee, 2017). This document specifically points out the relationship between libraries and the Indigenous community. However, I would say that this is a good working model that public education should replicate in order to ensure that treaty education is successfully implemented in the classrooms.