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Four Ways that Indigenous Language Translations Support and Improve Environmental Work

Banff, Alberta

For organizations working in the natural resources sector, effective communication and engagement with Indigenous communities are paramount for a host of ethical, legal, and practical reasons. Whether it involves sharing information or inviting knowledge, for example in relation to a potential initiative, translation plays a pivotal role, serving as a bridge between diverse parties and ensuring that crucial information reaches everyone who needs it. In this article, we look at four ways that Indigenous language translations can support and improve environmental work.

  1. Demonstrating Respect: Indigenous peoples in Canada have a deeply rooted and multi-faceted relationship with the environment that is shaped by their cultural, spiritual, social, and economic connections to the land. Properly translating documents, communications, and materials into the appropriate Indigenous languages and dialects is a step toward recognizing this vital relationship and Indigenous peoples’ stewardship role of the land, and is a critical factor for any successful initiative.
  2. Facilitating Knowledge Exchange: Environmental work often includes navigating and communicating several complex and nuanced scientific concepts and policies, and exploring a variety of outcomes and impacts. Translation with care and accuracy is important to not lose any of those important details for sharing with stakeholders. Translating research also makes it more widely accessible and increases the diversity of perspectives being considered.
  3. Empowering Local Communities: Indigenous peoples are not always given the necessary information on issues that affect their lives, communities, and land. Quality translations can help empower these communities by providing them with the necessary tools to understand and actively participate in, and contribute to, environmental discussions and decision-making. Effective communication supported by translation can also help foster greater trust and reciprocity between organizations and communities, laying the groundwork for collaborative partnerships built on mutual respect and understanding.
  4. Complying with Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Not only is it the right thing to do; but in some cases, there are legal and regulatory requirements to meaningfully consult with Indigenous communities, for example in relation to natural resources development or land and resource management. Proper translation helps organizations meet these obligations, demonstrate their due diligence in interactions with Indigenous peoples, and reduce the risk of project disruptions resulting from misunderstandings or lack of clarity in communications.
    In the complex world of environmental and natural resource management, translation serves as a vital tool for fostering collaboration, sharing knowledge, empowering communities, and bridging cultural divides. Furthermore, effectively engaging with Indigenous communities can lead to innovative approaches that draw upon both Western science and traditional ecological knowledge.

As a leading provider of Indigenous language translation services, we understand these nuances and we offer tailored translation solutions to our clients in the natural resources sector, helping them choose the appropriate dialects, create helpful resources, and enhance their communications and consultations with community stakeholders. For more information about these services visit our Natural Resources webpage.

By Gareth Myers

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