Tag Archives: Indigenous knowledge

Open Data Day 2022: March 5th

Open Data Day will take place on March 5, 2022. The day is organized annually by the Open Knowledge Foundation to promote Open Data around the world. It was created as an opportunity to emphasize the benefits of Open Data and encourage the adoption of Open Data policies in government, business and civil society. 

What is Open Data? According to the Open Data Handbook by the Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Data “…is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike”.  The Canadian government’s definition adds the aspects of structure and machine-readability: “Open data is defined as structured data that is machine-readable, freely shared, used and built on without restrictions.”

Open Data Padlock Lock - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

What are possible benefits of Open Data? First and foremost, the concept of Open Data is an integral part of the Open Scholarship ecosystem. Research data that is openly accessible contributes to innovation, transparency and reproducibility in science. But the benefits of Open Data are not limited to academia. Similarly, public administration information, if made freely accessible in compliance with open standards, is contributing to a more transparent and accountable governance and thus to a potentially more equitable society. And ultimately, it is open data generated in citizen science projects that feeds back into both academic and societal discourse.

What are Indigenous perspectives on Open Data? It must be understood that the ideas behind Open Data are not equally beneficial and relevant for all communities. The needs of Indigenous Peoples for autonomy and control over Indigenous data and data related to Indigenous Knowledges, as reflected in the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance, may be opposed to the principles of Open Data. It is the responsibility of the global Open Scholarship community to respectfully acknowledge that fact and attempt to reconcile these principles in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Data sovereignty advocates. To learn more about the history and principles of Indigenous Data sovereignty, particularly in the lands now known as Canada, see the First Nations Principles of OCAP and chapter 9 of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2 2018) on Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.

Which sources for Open Data do exist? There are numerous initiatives and resources around Open Data in academic research, citizen science, and public administration. For example, the ongoing COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group is curating an extensive dataset on COVID-19 in Canada. A large amount of geographic data is freely available in OpenStreetMap. A growing number of governing bodies is providing demographic and other statistical data.  And libraries, archives, and museums provide digitizations of their collections as well as metadata and also feed them into projects such as Wikidata, or the Internet Archive, bringing the concept of Linked Open Data to life.

Open Data – what role does it play in the UVic community? A wide range of stakeholders at University of Victoria are contributing to and making use of Open Data. UVic Libraries invites faculty, researchers, and students to deposit their scholarly data into UVic Dataverse, an institutional research data repository. The depositors are encouraged to make the data open, because the repository is an ideal environment for Open Data.
The Libraries also maintain several Libguides that address Open Data discovery, including on research, health and government data, business data, and geospatial data, as well as discipline specific guides.
Research projects like the Ocean Networks Canada are inviting scholars and the public to access their data, while explicitly committing to Canadian Open Data principles.
Other projects at UVic that touch on the topic of Open Data include the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ECTL), which curates an overview on the topic and hosts the Open Scholarship Policy Observatory, that – among others – lists Open Data policies.  

Endangered or a language in hiding?

Feb. 16, 2021|Toronto Star via UVic News

After two decades of hiding his ancestral tongue, Levi Martin was reintroduced to Tla-o-qui-aht and is one of the estimated 10 percent to speak it fluently. And as one of the many children sent to Residential Schools, he isn’t the only one that struggled after losing a crucial part of his identity. Thankfully, a platform called FirstVoices (launched in 2003) has a growing database of Indigenous languages and can be used as a reference guide for those hoping to learn or relearn. Those involved in the website’s efforts are always encouraging others to contribute their knowledge of different dialects, pronunciation, and more to safeguard against language extinction.

“Many of the languages are spoken as first languages by a very small handful of elders and those elders are passing on,” [Sonya Bird] said. “If language revitalization efforts don’t happen now, within the next decade or two, we’ll have lost a lot of those elders and knowledge keepers.”

Sonya Bird, an associate linguistics professor at the University of Victoria, is one of the many members a part of the Indigenous languages revitalization projects. Her area of focus has been pronunciation, particularly with long sequences of consonants, and providing the tools to achieve oral proficiency. If you wish to explore more of her work, The Copyright and Scholarly Communications Office encourages you to visit Dr. Bird’s publications through UVic’s institutional repository, UVicSpace and browse her list of her publications.

Featured Thesis: Caring for lhuq’us (pyropia spp.)

By Jack Baker


An M.A.. thesis in the Department of Anthropology


Hul’qumi’num communities on south eastern Vancouver Island have concerns about the status and safety of marine foods potentially impacted by environmental change and the urbanization and industrialization of their territories. Collaborative research undertaken with the Hul’q’umi’num’ Lands and Resources Society is part of a broader effort to revitalize cultural practices, language, and food systems. Lhuq’us (the Hul’q’umi’num’ language term for pohrpyra/pyropia spp. (commonly known as red laver or black gold)) is a flavourful and nutritious intertidal seaweed that grows on rocky beaches across the Pacific Northwest. Hul’q’umi’num’ language, cultural values, teachings, and family histories are all interwoven into the harvesting and consumption of lhuq’us in Hul’qumi’num territories. Lhuq’us is one of the species that have been persistently mentioned in conversations with state regulatory agencies and though these concerns have been raised for at least two decades there has been no systematic monitoring of the species. There are two broad streams of inquiry taken by thesis thesis. The first, employing ethnographic methodology including interviews and observant participation, seeks to both document the cultural values, oral histories, lived experiences associated with lhuq’us as well as concerns for the future collaborators have for lhuq’us and lhuq’us beaches. The second stream, based in a geographic approach, asks whether Unoccupied Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technologies could be employed to record the status of lhuq’us as a baseline for monitoring. Two study sites in the Salish sea were surveyed using UAV techniques: ȾEL,IȽĆ and St’utl’qulus. The overall accuracies of the UAV imagery classifications and the particular accuracies of the class representing lhuq’us suggest that UAV technologies paired with Google Earth Engine (GEE) object based image analysis (OBIA) methodologies can effectively detect lhuq’us. There are serious concerns and cultural values and practices deeply interconnected with culturally important species like lhuq’us. Through holding these concerns and values side by side with systematic observation and analyses maps and materials were created which communities can use to assert their rights, enact their own monitoring of territories and re-prioritize environmental decision-making done by federal, provincial, and municipal management agencies.

To read more, visit UVicSpace

*UVic’s open access repository, UVicspace, makes worldwide knowledge mobilization possible. Through this platform, researchers at any institution have access to dissertations (and theses and graduate projects) published by our graduate students. This also makes works available to the interested layperson, who may be engaged in learning more about the research being done at UVic, with no paywall. UVic’s graduate students are doing valuable research every day – but sometimes it goes unsung. Our goal with this series is to shine a light on our students by featuring excellence, one achievement at a time.

The UVic LIbraries ePublishing Services Team