Why is Indigenous Engagement important to Atlas-3?

During previous atlas projects, atlas organizers worked with Indigenous communities to coordinate expeditions around communities and along rivers across the Province, including remote parts of Northern Ontario. For Atlas-3, deeper engagement of Indigenous Nations, organizations and individuals is a priority for the Atlas partners. We are working toward Indigenous engagement that is inclusive, intentional, inviting, and respectful. Atlas organizers recognize that Ontario’s lands and waters are Treaty lands, or in some cases, unceded territories of Indigenous Nations. For this reason, atlassing efforts on traditional territories should be respectfully communicated to the relevant Indigenous Nations prior to on-the-ground atlassing.

Learning is ongoing within the Atlas as we identify best practices and processes to communicate atlassing plans and aspirations, and to receive feedback from Indigenous communities. We acknowledge that all of Ontario is the traditional territory of one or more Indigenous Nations.

The Atlas-3 Indigenous Engagement Committee was convened in May 2020 for the purpose of providing advice to atlassers and Atlas-3 committees on the goals and activities that would best advance Atlas-3’s desire to conduct the Atlas in the spirit and practice of reconciliation.


  1. Atlas-3 partners, committees, regional coordinators and volunteers learn and use best practices for engaging Indigenous communities.
  2. Atlas-3 actively seeks to include Indigenous participation.
  3. Atlas-3 contributes to Indigenous community goals and interests, where these align.

The Indigenous Engagement Committee acknowledges that the majority of atlas activities are undertaken by volunteers, and we are mindful that listening, learning, understanding, and encouragement will be needed to achieve these goals.

Indigenous Engagement Committee:

For a list of current members of the Indigenous Engagement Committee see https://www.birdsontario.org/committees/

Two-Eyed Seeing to Share Knowledge of Ontario’s Breeding Birds

The Two-Eyed Seeing to Share Knowledge of Ontario’s Breeding Birds project is being led by Plenty Canada, in partnership with Ontario Nature. This project has a “Community First” approach that supports Indigenous communities to lead initiatives that align with their bird-related priorities, including increased protection and recovery of birds at risk and youth on the land programming. Plenty Canada hired two Indigenous Community Liaisons, one for the ‘Southern’ portion of Ontario and one for the ‘North’. The Indigenous Community Liaisons will work to:

  • Raise awareness of Atlas-3 with Indigenous communities in Ontario
  • Facilitate communication between Indigenous communities and Atlas-3 participants
  • Provide resources and access to training for bird surveying

Other important project objectives are to support Two-Eyed Seeing knowledge exchanges, organize learning circles where communities and Atlas-3 participants come together to share knowledge and to help the project operate within the framework of Ethical Space using the Two-Eyed Seeing approach.

To learn more about the project or get involved, interested individuals or communities can learn more at: www.plentycanada.com/two-eyed-seeing-bird-knowledge

Reconciliation 101 (March 15/16, 2021)

The third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Atlas-3) is committed to operating within the spirit and intent of reconciliation. But do we have a shared understanding of what is meant by “reconciliation”? And how can we consistently integrate the principles of reconciliation into our atlassing? Dr. Lana Ray introduces the essentials of reconciliation, including exploring the definition and principles of reconciliation, why reconciliation is needed, barriers to achieving reconciliation and key actions and approaches to advance reconciliation.

Conducting Research with Indigenous Peoples (March 22/23, 2021)

The third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Atlas-3) is committed to operating within the spirit and intent of reconciliation. This webinar introduced participants to key considerations for working with Indigenous peoples in research settings, such as wildlife surveys, including communications and recognition. In this video, Dr. Ray helps us to understand the issues with historical approaches to Indigenous research, introduces Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and puts forth promising practices for engaging in research respectfully with Indigenous peoples.

Atlas-3 Launch Weekend – Indigenous Engagement Panel (April 25, 2021)

This session provided a brief overview of the work being done by the Indigenous Engagement Committee, followed by a panel discussion to provide practical advice and suggestions for atlassers on engaging with Indigenous communities and individuals while conducting bird surveys.

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