Aboriginal peoples have a special relationship with the natural environment and unique stewardship responsibilities that come with this relationship. The accompanying knowledge brings special understanding to the site selection process, including factors that should be considered and processes that should be used. This includes the assessment of both safety and community well-being.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge includes important knowledge about the land and ecology stemming from long contact with the land. It also includes knowledge about developing and maintaining effective and meaningful relationships between generations and within and between communities.

Traditional Knowledge systems assume that people are part of the land, not that they own the land. This knowledge emphasizes the interrelationships between components of the environment.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge provides rules for:

  • Protecting the land while using it
  • Clarifying and enhancing relationships among users
  • Assisting in the development of technologies to meet the subsistence, health, trade, and ritual needs of local people
  • Helping to create a world view that incorporates and makes sense of all these in the context of a long-term, holistic perspective in decision-making

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge requires that appropriate consideration and respect must be given to factors such as:

  • Spiritual and physical aspects of the land, people, wildlife, and their habitat
  • The relationships between various aspects of the environment, including humans
  • The Aboriginal sense of responsibility and stewardship
  • The health, trade and spiritual needs of people
  • Aspects of traditional community life, such as culturally oriented activities, the wide range of volunteer activities, recreational activities, housework, and subsistence activities
  • The impact of our actions seven generations or more in the future

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge is a complex and sophisticated system of knowledge drawing on centuries of wisdom and experience. It constantly grows and changes with new information. The wisdom derived from this philosophy can be used when planning for the future. For example, the "seven generation" teachings require decision-makers to consider the impact of their choices on future generations.

We will look to Aboriginal communities in the area surrounding interested communities to work together in applying Traditional Knowledge to the site selection process. We want to ensure ongoing, active, and meaningful collaboration, and are committed to building sustainable, long-term relationships with Aboriginal communities. We will continue to engage Aboriginal peoples throughout all aspects of Canada's plan. This collaboration will be informed by the Council of Elders, an advisory body to NWMO management.

Video: Traditional Knowledge and Science

Aboriginal and western world views and knowledge systems are each unique. Interweaving of these two world views can bring opportunities to strengthen our work as we learn from one another.