The term Two-Eyed Seeing (Etuaptmumk in Mi’kmaw) means learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledge, and through the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledge. Guiding this approach has been Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall.
“Elder Albert reminds us that learning to see with both eyes comes with the responsibility to act on what we come to understand,” said Robin Roth, Guelph University Conservation Leadership professor.
Under governance of the newly incorporated Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network (NEBN), the Biosphere will incorporate Two-Eyed Seeing into both its development model and its everyday governance. Indigenous co-development and co-management of the Biosphere is of the highest importance to the NEBN and addresses both Truth and Reconciliation measures and mandates from UNESCO to reengage marginalized stakeholders, such as Indigenous groups, prior to their 2024 periodic review. A local example of an initiative incorporating Two-Eyed Seeing can be found in the park enhancement project upgrading Jordan Hollow Park to Jordan Hollow Indigenous Cultural Park. For more information, click here:
Key Biosphere partner, Plenty Canada, also brings the Two-Eyed Seeing perspective to life in their work. For more information, check them out here:
— Nathan Greenlay
Albert Marshall is a highly respected and much-loved Elder of the Mi’kmaw Nation. He lives in Eskasoni First Nation in Unama’ki (Cape Breton), Nova Scotia, and is a passionate advocate of cross-cultural understandings and healing and of our human responsibilities to care for all creatures and our Earth Mother. Albert is the “designated voice” with respect to environmental issues for the Mi’kmaw Elders of Unama’ki and sits on various committees that develop and guide collaborative initiatives and understandings in natural resource management, that serve First Nations’ governance issues, or that otherwise work towards ethical, environmental, social, and economic practices. He and his late wife, Murdena, coined the phrase Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing) as a guiding principle for collaborative work which encourages learners to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing; learning to use both these eyes together for the benefit of all. Albert was an inmate of the Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, for much of his childhood and teenage years. He was profoundly affected by this experience, and it has led him on a lifelong quest to connect with and understand both the culture he was removed from and the culture he was forced into, to help these cultures find ways of living in mutual respect of each other’s positive attributes.