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Added by Tracey Lauriault, last edited by Barbara George on Sep 06, 2012  (view change)


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About GCRC



Research Areas

Indigenous Knowledge

Northern Research

Law, Society & Cybercartography

Geospatial Information Management

Archiving & Preservation

Cybercartography & the New Economy



Open Source


Nunaliit Atlas Framework 2.0
(Old v1 site)


Global Map

Research on Indigenous and Local Spatial Knowledge

Indigenous and local spatial knowledge is an important part of the research interests of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC). In addition to our northern research with Inuit and other northern peoples, the GCRC looks at broader issues of importance to indigenous mapping. The Cybercartographic Case Study of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship Process (see below) funded by a SSHRC Standard grant currently supports this area of research at the GCRC. The GCRC is also leading a project called Gwich'in Goonanh'kak Googwandak: The Places and Stories of the Gwich'in which is a sub-grant of Canadian Heritage grant to Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute entitled Gwich'in Place Names Atlas 2010-2012 D. R. F. Taylor is the sub-grant Principal Investigator. GCRC has also been active for several year in research on this topic in other parts of the world, especially in Africa and Latin America. The Centre has developed a proposal to create an Indigenous Cybercartographic Atlas of Latin America in cooperation with colleagues in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Peru, building on the experience gained in creating the Cybercartographic Atlas of Water in Latin America in 2000. Emily Wilson, a graduate student in Geography completed her MA thesis on Gendered Geographies and Participatory Processes: Mapping Natural Resource Use with Wapichan Women in Southern Guyana in 2006 supervised by Dr. D. R. F. Taylor and Dr. Derek Smith. A new proposal to create an Indigenous Atlas of Chubut in Patagonia is an integral part of our ongoing cooperation with the State of Chubut Government and academic researchers in Patagonia. Our cooperation also includes plans to create a Spatial Data Infrastructure for the State.


Public Participation in a Voluntary Geographic Information Environment

Principal Investigator, D. R. Fraser Taylor, follow-up to The Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty Process. Research to further develop the public outreach dimension of the Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty is continuing at the intersection of aboriginal research and geospatial technologies.This community-based project is consistent with the objectives of the Government of Ontario's Youth Science and Technology Outreach Program in that it connects youth with researchers from across the province, and motivates and encourages them to develop an interest in science and technology. Involving a broad community of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals - students, elders, teachers, academics, geospatial knowledge specialists, artists, archivists, surveyors and policy makers -  this research is intended to increase knowledge of geospatial technologies, while it enhances awareness of different perspectives, increases mutual understanding and leads to improved intercultural relationships, all of which are key factors in the ways that individuals, groups and societies should think, live and interact with each other and the world.


A Cybercartographic Case Study of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship Process

A broad objective of this research project is to increase the understanding of the requirements for improved treaty-based relationships with Canada's indigenous peoples and in particular, the Anishinaabeg (or Anishinaabe peoples), through the development of an online cybercartographic atlas module of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship. The goal is to communicate local knowledge and research findings, in collaboration with Anishinaabe communities, in the form of a cybercartographic atlas module that is intended to enhance awareness of indigenous perspectives and help to expose the assumptions implicit in the western worldview. The Cybercartographic Case Study of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship Process is supported by a SSHRC Standard Grant: $143,431 (2009-2012).


  • D. R. F. Taylor (applicant), Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University
  • Nancy Doubleday (co-applicant), Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University
  • Sebastien Caquard (co-applicant), Universite de Montreal
  • Stephanie Pyne, PhD Candidate, Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre

Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship Process

The Living Cybercartographic Atlas of Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge

The Living Cybercartographic Atlas of Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge builds on the substantial work on cybercartography developed at the GCRC at Carleton University, Ottawa directed by Professor D. R. Fraser Taylor. Cybercartography is a new paradigm that sees the map as central to knowledge interaction in the information society. The Cybercartography Atlas Infrastructure which is used to create cybercartographic atlases uses open source and open standards and will be used to develop an online cybercartographic atlas enabling better integration, understanding and communication of geospatial indigenous knowledge. The content of the atlas was developed in cooperation with a number of communities in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region building on the research of Professor Ruth Phillips and her colleagues. There is a need to preserve long-established knowledge and to gather dispersed artifacts from many digital sources such as museums, archives and private collections. There is also a need for communities to be directly involved in this process. This atlas is a repository for this material and enabled community contribution of geographically relevant video/audio content. The atlas demonstrated the importance of indigenous knowledge and values and translate this unique knowledge into highly interactive, multimedia and multi-sensory narratives for educational purposes. This project was funded by Inukshuk Wireless.


Publications & Presentations

Book Chapters

Pyne, S. (2009). Spatializing History: The Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty Process, in Karl Hele (ed.), This is Indian Land: The Robinson Huron Treaties of 1850.


Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Taylor, D.R.F. and Pyne, S., 2009. The history and development of the theory and practice of cybercartography. International Journal of Digital Earth,3(1),1-14.

Pyne, S. and D. R.F. Taylor (2012) (in press). Mapping Indigenous Perspectives in the Making of the Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship Process, Cartographica Special issue on Indigenous Cartography and Computer Mapping.

Brauen, G., Pyne, S., Hayes, A, and Taylor, D. R. F. (2011), Encouraging transdisciplinary participation using an open source cybercartographic tooklit: The Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty relationship process. Geomatica 65 (1): 27-45


Papers & Presentations at Conferences

Pyne, S., Taylor, D.R.F., and Caquard, S. (2009). The Emerging Role of Art in Cybercartography: Conveying Indigenous and Critical Perspectives in the Treaties Module, presented by D. R. F. Taylor at ICC 2009 24th International Cartography Conference, November 15 to 21, 2009, Santiago, Chile.

Pyne, S. (2009). Designing Cybercartographic Atlases as Reconciliation Tools, Circle of All Nations Workshop Sustainable Relationships: Reconciliation and Integration, Victoria Island, Ontario, May 22-24.

Pyne, S. (2009). A Cybercartographic Case Study of the Lake Huron Treaty Relationship Process: Building Awareness to Bridge Relationships, Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Meeting,1 Carleton University, Ottawa, May, 27.

Pyne, S. (2009). The Little Land We Yet Possess: Surveying the Robinson Huron Reserves, Ojibwe Cultural Foundation Special Presentation along the theme of the month's Exhibit "Creation, Land, Treaty: From Sacred to Profane", M'Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, October 1, 2009.

Pyne, S. (2009). The Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty, Manitoulin High School, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, October 19.

Pyne, S. (2009). The Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty, M'chigeeng Adult High School
M'Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, October 19.

Pyne, S. (2009). The Making of the Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty, NCCAH Atlas
Information Session, Vancouver, October 30.

Pyne, S. (2009). Designing and Developing the Cybercartographic Atlas of the Lake Huron Treaty, MNR Ontario Aboriginal Working Group Meeting, North Bay, Ontario, December 11.

Pyne, S. (2009). Political Ecology and the Cybercartographic Atlas of Lake Huron Treaty Relationships, Carleton University Environmental Studies 3000 class, January 15, 2010.

Taylor, D. R. Fraser (2009).Some New Applications in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography: Mapping with Indigenous Peoples in Canada's North, presented to the Royal Society of Canada Eastern Ontario Regional Luncheon, March 25.


Media Coverage and Other

S. Pyne attended "Solidifying a Vision of an Online Atlas of Aboriginal People's Health in BC Dialogue Session" and provided guidance based on experience with design and development of the Cybercartographic Atlas of Lake Huron Treaty Relationships, Prince George, British Columbia, March 12, 2010.

Manitoulin Expositor, "Stephanie Pyne Tracks the Steps of Robinson Huron Survey Crews", Margot Little, Nov. 10, 2009.

The Living Cybercartographic Atlas of Indigenous Artifacts and Knowledge funded by the Inukshuk Fund appears in a FASS article: Inukshuk funds living Atlas.


Indigenous Knowledge - Publications (Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre)

An article has appeared in a national newspaper in Mexico linking Carleton University to a research project in the Sierra Juarez region of the State of Oaxaca. The article does not give any specific information of what the role of Carleton University was in the investigation using indigenous knowledge for mapping and logging resource information. However the communities involved that helped the researchers on the project only found out later that the principal funding for the project came from the United States military. I include the link to the article which is in Spanish, but am curious to know what kind of participation Carleton University is providing. In the state of Oaxaca, there has been a great deal of social conflict that nearly caused the fall of the state government in 2006, and there are many accusations of human rights abuses of indigenous peoples, thought to be largely linked to government attempts to disposess communities of territories that may have resource extraction potential. Is there a policy of the Carleton University geography department as to what types of research is supported and how much information is revealed to the local communities regarding the funders of research projects? Thank you


Posted by Anonymous at Feb 03, 2009 21:21

Posting on behalf of Professor Derek A. Smith:

The newspaper article that is mentioned refers to a research project in Mexico that I have been involved in since 2005 which is based at the University of Kansas. I am not a PI or co-PI and no funding was transferred to Carleton, but I have played a major role in the field work. The article is based on the accusations of an indigenous leader who was supportive of the research when we arrived to Oaxaca in the summer of 2006, but with whom we had little contact afterwards. I can assure you that the allegations about lack of transparency, lack of informed consent, that the results will be used to hurt the indigenous communities who participated in the research, that they were victims of geopiracy, and that the research provides no benefits to them are all completely false.

The research (which is sponsored by the American Geographical Society) has been conducted through an exceptionally close partnership with indigenous communities in two regions of Mexico, with informed consent and approval from elected authorities and formal community assemblies. Local investigators were selected by the communities to receive training and work directly with us, and elders were selected by local authorities to represent the community and provide assistance. The participants were not objects of the research but actively engaged in the research process and played key roles in how it was carried out. We also made arrangements for two local indigenous investigators to attend an international conference in San Luis Potosí in November, 2007 where they had the opportunity to present their own views of the project. Municipal authorities and state agencies were also informed of the research. The objectives, methods and other aspects of the research were fully explained, and ample opportunity was provided for questions and discussion. The sources of funding were never secret and were discussed openly in many venues and posted on the project web site from the beginning. In fact, in July, 2005 a representative of the Foreign Military Studies Office of the United States (the main source of funds for the research) visited us briefly and was introduced to and spoke to the elected authorities, local investigators, and others from nine indigenous communities participating in our research during a workshop. We never concealed anything or mislead anyone.

The community maps were produced using participatory methods that reflect local people's visions of their lands. We put information on the maps that they specifically requested, and did not put anything on the maps that they did not want to be included. The maps have been submitted officially to all of the participating communities in the two regions in digital and hard copy formats. They have already begun using them independently to lower their property taxes, identify conservation areas, develop ecotourism plans, educate their youth about their culture and history, and try to correct errors in the delimitation of their territorial boundaries. I can't think of any possible harm that the research findings could bring.

The AGS has reponded with a "press release" that is available at http://www.amergeog.org/newsrelease/bowmanPR-en.pdf. If you are interested in more information you can also visit the web site at http://web.ku.edu/~mexind/ or read more about the project in an article in the July 2008 issue of the Geographical Review.

For more information, please contact Derek Smith directly (dereka_smith at carleton.ca).

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