Empowering the Human-Nature Bond

Published on November 24, 2021

Western Libraries’ GIS Days 2021 just wrapped up, and for one of the week’s presenters, it was her first opportunity to speak about an innovative, five-year pilot project between the Deshkan Ziibiing/Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Peoples, the Carolinian Canada Coalition, VERGE Capital, 3M Canada, and a research team from Ivey Business School.

Together, these partners developed the Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond (DZCIB), a place-based collaboration and financial model that seeks to accelerate healthy landscapes, nature-based solutions, advance Indigenous reconciliation, and empower the human-nature relationship in southern Ontario.

As part of GIS Days, Valeria Widjaja, an Ivey HBA student and member of the school’s Social Impact Club, showcased the project’s StoryMap – an online geographic information tool that highlights the relationships facilitated by the DZCIB and tells of the bond’s ongoing work to re-establish healthy landscapes in the southern Ontario Carolinian Zone.

Screenshot of the Empowering the Human-Nature Bond StoryMap
View the Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond StoryMap

“This project opened my eyes to different ways of knowing,” Valeria explains, “when you compare the kin-centric Indigenous worldviews of nature with the hierarchical Western worldview, you begin to understand how we've been able to justify the exploitation of other forms of nature. There is a fundamental life-supporting relationship between humans and the ecosystems they are embedded within, so we need solutions that benefit all humans, wildlife, and land – the entire ecosystem.”

By honouring longstanding Indigenous land stewardship and supporting the Indigenous-led conservation movement, Valeria hopes the DZCIB provides an opportunity for mutual, regenerative relationships among humans, between humans and ecosystems, and within ecosystems. “In today’s world, we face challenges that transcend business problems because they are human problems. These aren’t problems we can fix with one Band-Aid; topics like climate change or Indigenous relations need collective, collaborative action. We can’t continue viewing life and business as zero-sum games.”

Read more about the Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond on Scholarship@Western.