In the newest episode of the Earth Charter podcast, Mirian Vilela speaks with Carol Anne Hilton, Indigenous businesswoman and author about her work rebuilding and strengthening Indigenous economies, the history of oppression against Indigenous people in Canada, and commonalties between Indigenous worldviews and the Earth Charter.
For a period of over one hundred years, settlers and the Canadian government actively worked to destroy Indigenous culture and people in order to take control of land and resources. Hilton explains how the Canadian government systematically and intentionally assimilated Indigenous children using a residential school system that took children away from their families and banned the practice of their culture and language. This continued for over one hundred years, disrupting multiple generations and continued until the 1990s.
In her work, Hilton addresses the economic impacts of this history of repression by shaping a new space around Indigenous economics and linking it to the past and revaluing it for the present. The idea of Indigenomics restores narratives of the truth of this history, increases Indigenous peoples’ roles in the economy, and uses Indigenous wisdom of local economy to come to terms with and reestablish Indigenous perspectives in business and economics. To further this cause, Hilton established the Indigenomics Institute, the Global Center of Indigenomics, and wrote Indigenomics: Taking a Seat at the Economics Table.
Indigenous worldviews have much in common with the Earth Charter. Both promote conservation, share a respect for life, and ecological integrity. There is an Indigenous concept called seven generation thinking in which decisions made in the present must consider the impact on future generations. Indigenous views focus on a relationship with, rather than ownership of, land and resources. With regards to economic opportunities, Hilton and her community incorporate the balancing of business with sustainable practices which has been at odds with traditional economic development. While traditional business focuses on GDP to measure growth, Indigenous perspectives measure overall well-being and the continuation of the community.