We Are Ocean People: Special Issue of Parks Stewardship Forum Celebrates Indigenous Leadership in Marine Conservation

Indigenous knowledge and leadership are essential to managing marine protected areas in Canada and around the world. On National Indigenous Peoples Day (21 June), we invite you to discover more about Indigenous connections to the ocean through the latest issue of Parks Stewardship Forum “We Are Ocean People: Indigenous Leadership in Marine Conservation.”

Celebrating the wisdom and insights of Indigenous ocean caretakers from around the world, this special issue of Parks Stewardship Forum was created under the direction of an Indigenous Editorial Team led by Guest Editors Cindy Boyko (Haida; Haida Gwaii) and ‘Aulani Wilhelm (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi – Native Hawaiian; Hawai‘i).

“We Are Ocean People” features over 25 contributions: case studies, analyses of programs, personal stories, videos, poems, and more. This special issue was created with a vision to offer space to Indigenous knowledge-holders to tell their stories and share perspectives about the ocean and its coastal areas, connecting wisdom of the Ancestors to the promise of the future. The special issue is positioned as a contribution to the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) in February 2023.

At IMPAC5 the role of Indigenous knowledge and leadership in marine protected areas around the world will be shared to inform and inspire.  To guide discussions and further action, all aspects of the congress will be informed by three cross-cutting streams: Indigenous Peoples’ Leadership; The Voice of Young Professionals; and Innovation and Transformational Change. These streams were designed in consultation with the IMPAC International Committee, the IMPAC5 Planning Committee and the IMPAC5 Indigenous Working Group.

Parks Stewardship Forum invited IMPAC5 to contribute an article to “We Are Ocean People” exploring the Indigenous People’s Leadership stream at the Congress. In it, you will find information about the 3 Host First Nationsxwməθkwəỷəm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətal (Tsleil-Waututh)—as well as the IMPAC5 Indigenous Working Group, opportunities for Indigenous Young Professionals, Indigenous-specific events at IMPAC5, and more.

During National Indigenous History Month in June, IMPAC5 Secretariat team members are being encouraged to learn more about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their histories spanning thousands of years. We encourage the marine practitioner community around the world to do the same by diving into “We Are Ocean People: Indigenous Leadership in Marine Conservation”.


The Indigenous Working Group of IMPAC5 includes the following organizations:

  • Assembly of First Nations
  • Coastal First Nations
  • First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council
  • Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council
  • Host First Nations for IMPAC5

“Indigenous Peoples have been stewards of the lands and waters around the globe since time immemorial. At IMPAC5, not only do we celebrate Indigenous leaders who work tirelessly to protect the oceans, we also aim to highlight that successful marine conservation efforts require establishing meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples, and adopting Indigenous knowledge and practices to bring sustainability back as it existed before contact.”

 – Lisa Dixon, IMPAC5 Indigenous Engagement Manager