Airports, wildfires, cultural survival… and intellectual property

Published on: Author: James Chalmers Leave a comment

On the IPKat blog, Mira T. Sundara Rajan writes about traditional knowledge and the treatment of an indigenous minority culture in Canada:

“All airports are horrible, but every rule has an exception. In this case, the exception is YVR, Vancouver’s spectacular international airport, cradled between the mountains and the sea on Canada’s Pacific coast. But it is not only Vancouver’s beautiful location that makes this airport extraordinary: it is the fascinating display that is to be found within, featuring works of art and recreations of natural ecosystems that reflect the land and cultures of the west coast. Most, if not all, of that striking interior owes itself to Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. Their cultures are ostensibly featured in this setting, offering a distinctive welcome to a part of the world that is eager to demonstrate, and celebrate, its uniqueness.

And yet, these beautiful façades are not quite what they seem. The truth behind them is thought-provoking – and grim. While Canada is now eager to showcase its Aboriginal heritage, the history of Canadian attitudes towards its Aboriginal peoples is far from a happy one. On the contrary, Canada’s treatment of its First Nations has been a disturbing but consistent aberration in a country that claims to pride itself on respect for human rights and support for cultural diversity.

In June, an important moment in Canadian history arrived: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body established in 2007 to investigate the decades-long mistreatment of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in infamous “residential schools,” issued a detailed report. The Report was based largely on the testimony of victims, and features 94 recommendations for action. In its powerful statement, the Commission did not mince words: what had happened was “cultural genocide, and nothing less…”

Read the full post on the IPKat blog here.

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