Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 629–647 | Cite as

Remobilizing netukulimk: indigenous cultural and spiritual connections with resource stewardship and fisheries management in Atlantic Canada

  • L. Jane McMillan
  • Kerry Prosper


Recent global initiatives such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have brought the issues facing and needs of Indigenous peoples to the forefront of international attention. While underscoring respect for traditional practices, these initiatives have yet to appreciate fully the extent to which Indigenous peoples’ practices engage ways of being, living and believing that encompass a holistic understanding of the relations between humans and all facets of their ecosystems. The Mi’kmaw, a nation of Indigenous peoples in Atlantic Canada, work to recapture and express ancient holistic understandings through their contemporary natural resource management aspirations and practices. In this paper we review key colonial events that have impacted Indigenous relations with settlers and resulted in historical marginalization of the Mi’kmaw from fishery policy and management processes. We provide an overview and discussion of recent developments wherein the Mi’kmaw are working to revitalize the place of netukulimk, a concept that embraces cultural and spiritual connections with resource stewardship, in the exercise of treaty-based rights, particularly within self-governing fisheries management initiatives. We conclude with the core attributes of Two-Eyed Seeing, a methodological framework for collaborative, decolonizing research practices and Indigenous knowledge mobilization strategies. The Mi’kmaw experiences provide insights regarding the challenges and requirements for achieving respect for Indigenous traditional practices and point a way forward for more effective and inclusive stewardship of natural aquatic resources into the future.


Fisheries Aboriginal and treaty rights Indigenous peoples Mi’kmaw Donald Marshall 



We thank David Crook, Michael Douglas, Stephen Schnierer, Alison King and the Joint Congress of the Australian Society for Fish Biology and the Australian Society for Limnology for their incredible support for our participation at the 2014 meeting in Darwin. To Damein Bell, Denis Rose and Anthony Davis, many thanks for their generous insights and guidance in our collaborations. To all of the Mi’kmaw participants in our research, and with special remembrance of Donald Marshall and all that he has given, welalioq.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Communities, Department of AnthropologySt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada
  2. 2.Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw CommunityAfton StationCanada

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