Select Page


RSD12-Edmonton: Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom


igniting the fire of our ancestors’ ways of knowing

Hosted by the Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre | October 10, 2023 | Edmonton, Alberta, CAN

Indigenous land in Treaty 6 territory,  ᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ amiskwacîwâskahikan, is a traditional meeting ground, gathering place, and travelling route of the nêhiyawak (Cree), Anishinaabe (Saulteaux), Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Métis, Dene, and Nakota Sioux.

Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse is Cree and Mohawk from Michel First Nation, and has been recognised internationally for her anti-racism work with the Edmonton Shift Lab. Shared here are words from her RSD11 workshop (2022):

Indigenous worldviews have been rooted in systems thinking for thousands of years. Many Indigenous epistemologies are based on holistic, universalist, and de-centralised modes of perceiving the world and its natural systems. These stand in contrast to dominant Western epistemologies, which are based on linear, hierarchical, and discrete modes of thinking. (Calahoo-Stonehouse, 2022)


Calahoo-Stonehouse, J. (2022). Indigenising & Decolonising Social Innovation: Lessons for Systemic Design. Proceedings of Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article No.: 042 (p. 1).

Call for Contributions | Deadline for abstracts May 31 | Complete submissions due June 15 | Registration coming soon

RSD12-Edmonton Setting

kihcihkaw askî (sacred land)

The Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre (IKWC) and the City of Edmonton partnered to designate the first urban Indigenous cultural and ceremonial grounds in Canada—kihcihkaw askî, which in the Cree language means sacred land. This joint initiative has been overseen by an Elder Counsel and has been undertaken in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

IKWC’s vision:

We envision a welcoming space for the general public, while honoring the vision of the Elders to hold a sacred space for diverse Indigenous cultures to practice ceremonies and transfer knowledge. We will preserve a natural space within the city of Edmonton for present and future generations to heal, learn, and connect, one where the positive movement towards reconciliation will be led by Indigenous knowledge and worldviews.

FOCUS: Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom

The RSD12 call for contributions is now open and accepting submissions for papers, online workshops, and exhibits related to “indigenous knowledge and wisdom.”

The scope of this call for contributions is inclusive of Indigenous knowledge and wisdom around the world. The four considerations are offered as references to complexity mindset and Indigenous worldviews and are intended to provide inspiration for contributors to this focus area.

Collective self-determination

The relationship between knowledge and governance and collective self-determination is a fundamental right described as collective self-determination by Kyle Whyte, an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation:

I understand Indigenous governance according to two related conceptual constellations: resurgence and collective continuance, both of which are expressions of collective self-determination. Collective self-determination refers to a group’s ability to provide the cultural, social, economic, and political relations needed for its members to pursue good lives. In my understanding, resurgence involves thinking about collective self-determination while grasping the full impact of systems (or structures) of settler colonialism on Indigenous lives today and into the future. (Whyte, 2017)

Traditional ecological knowledge

A study of Australia, Canada and Brazil concludes that “Indigenous-managed lands represent an important repository of native vertebrate species richness in three of the six largest countries on earth” (Schuster, 2019, p. 4) and urges nation-to-nation partnerships as a way forward. Placed in the context of environmental policy, Rebecca Tsosie, of Yaqui descent, refers to this as traditional ecological knowledge:

It is perhaps more useful to speak of the category of “traditional ecological knowledge.” Indigenous peoples are unique because they have a longstanding and intergenerational presence upon their traditional territories, and this “ethics of place” is deeply embedded within their cultures and social organisation. For most indigenous peoples, sustainability is the result of conscious and intentional strategies designed to secure a balance between human beings and the natural world and to preserve the balance for the benefit of future generations. (Tsosie, 2018)


Contemporary global urbanisation also deeply affects Indigenous communities, reinforcing the inclination for people to move off the land to urban environments and away from traditional ways. Jessica Bolduc, Anishinaabe-French from the Batchewana First Nation, refers to this generation as edgewalkers:

Edgewalkers are a new generation of Aboriginal leaders who have no patience for the status quo, who are deeply interested in the potential of the future and who have a hunger to contribute to a better world. We’ve learned from the past and are using our Indigenous worldviews and understanding of modern systems to shape future possibilities that value the well-being of all. (The Walrus, 2015, 00:25)

Relational systems thinking

An ancient Haudenosaunee philosophy, The Seventh Generation Principle, considers seven generations into the future and guides decision-making for energy, water, and natural resources. Foremost, there is an understanding that we are all related and communicate through stories that seek to heal self and systems. Melanie Goodchild, Anishinaabe/Ojibway, expresses relational systems thinking as a dynamic interface theoretical model:

… relational systems thinking is an Indigenous standpoint, in which the relationships between everything are the most important elements of the work that you’re doing. … So when we would take on a design project, for example, if I were a designer, I would think about the medicines that would be necessary because when we’re doing our type of complexity and system scholarship, it’s about healing self and systems. So it’s not as much transformation of systems as it is healing those systems. And so that happens in a place of relationship with all of the elements—if we want to call it a system. (Soriano et al, 2022, 39:59)


Soriano, A., Vink, J., & Prakash, S. (with Agid, S., Ahmed Ansari, Melanie Goodchild, & van Amstel, F.) (2022). Confronting Legacies of Oppression in Systemic Design: [Video file]. Proceedings of Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article 012.

The Walrus (2015, April 23). Edgewalkers | Jessica Bolduc | Walrus Talks. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Tsosie, R. (2018). In Nelson, M.K. & Shilling, D (Eds.), Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Practices for Environmental Sustainability (p. 235). Cambridge University Press.

Whyte, K. (2017). What Do Indigenous Knowledges Do for Indigenous Peoples? SSRN

RSD Examples

Bagchi, P. (2022). At the Intersection of Cosmopolitan Elitism and Oppression: A postcolonial analysis of transnational education systems. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article No.: 092.

Calahoo-Stonehouse, J. (2022). Indigenising & Decolonising Social Innovation: Lessons for Systemic Design. Proceedings of Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article No.: 042 (p. 1).

Mehta, T. & Bentley, J. 2021. Leveraging Indigenous Knowledge, Collaboration, and Emergent Technology. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD10.

Narayan, M. & Agrawal, A. (2020). Methodology for designing alternative ecosystem for restoring indigenous knowledge of smallholder communities in India. Proceedings of Systems Thinking and Design, RSD9.

Singh, S. (2022). Shifting Perceptions: Transforming anti-racism praxis into prototypes. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article No.: 162.

Soriano, A., Vink, J., & Prakash, S. (with Agid, S., Ahmed Ansari, Melanie Goodchild, & van Amstel, F.) (2022). Confronting Legacies of Oppression in Systemic Design: [Video file]. Proceedings of Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article 012.

Vojno, N. (2022). Braiding Knowledge Systems as Environmental Peacebuilding: A four-dimensional analysis for co-applying Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD11. Article No.: 095.



James Knibb-Lamouche, Director of Research and Innovation, IKWC,

Sameer Singh,



The programme and schedule are in development.


Not confirmed.

About the Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre

From, Our Story

The Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre (IKWC) is not a new idea as it was borrowed from Citizens Plus, June 1970. This concept was called the ‘Alberta Indian Education Centre’ and was designed to promote studies of Indian history, culture, language and values (Citizens Plus, Indian Chiefs of Alberta, June 1970). It is noteworthy that the ‘red paper’ was drafted in the very same building the IKWC office is located in today. The idea of an ‘Education Centre would have certainly been lost if it was not for Ms. Marilyn Buffalo and Ms. Sheena Potts who insisted on the idea that a cultural education centre be included in the Education MOU.

In the spring of 2012, a draft of an IKWC business plan was developed by the IKWC sub-table, and was revised a year later in the spring of 2013. On June 13, 2013, at a duly convened meeting of the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs, the Chiefs Resolution: #2013-06-12/R10 was passed in support of IKWC. In 2016, a Chiefs’ Roundtable was held in Kananaskis, AB; the Chiefs agreed to proceed to create a federally incorporated not-for-profit entity and appointed an Interim IKWC-Board of Directors.

The IKWC office opened its doors and began operations in the spring of 2017 where it will be a centralized location offering education, policy, language and culture. It will  provide a repository of information on Treaty No. 6, Treaty No. 7 and Treaty No. 8. Members, and a First Nations directed environment to learn and share information.

Indigenous knowledge and wisdom centre logo
kihcihkaw askî (Sacred Land)

Photo: kihcihkaw askî (sacred land). Source: City of Edmonton.

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The scholar’s spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholar's spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Share This
Verified by MonsterInsights