Maps can be more complicated than what we initially see on the surface. Many of our modern maps have a history of colonialism, with aims of cutting up the landscape, separating people from their traditional territories, and claiming borders and areas for political power.

As we work towards creating the online interactive map of Howe Sound/Átl’ka7tsem, we have been striving to learn more about diverse ways of mapping and creating spatial knowledge that better reflects and includes diverse ways of knowing about marine, coastal, and terrestrial ecosystems and communities.

Through our learning process, we have come across various pieces of literature and projects. We thought you might like to see some of what others are working on to decolonize maps. Below are three examples that are educational and fun to look at!


Ocean & Way of Life Map

This map is part of the Council of Haida Nation’s Marine Planning Program. The map includes traditional place names, each of which holds its own unique story, as well as icons of marine life, representing distribution. The intimate connection the Haida have with the ocean is further explained in this brochure which accompanies the map.

Photo from Council of the Haida Nation Marine Planning Program. Visit the map and learn more here.

Inuit Siku (sea ice) Atlas

This map was created by a group of Inuit experts, community researchers, and university researchers. They have worked together over several years to document specialized Inuit knowledge about sea ice around Baffin Island. There are many variables that affect sea ice like wind and tides, and there are numerous types of ice features and uses. This interactive map includes audio from elders talking about their traditions, history, and stories.

Photo from Inuit Siku Atlas. Visit the atlas and learn more here.


Naonaiyaotit Traditional Knowledge Project Atlas

This project was created from the necessity to weigh Traditional knowledge as having equal importance to Western Science during environmental assessments. Created through a collaboration across the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Dominion Diamond Mines, Dalhousie University, and ESRI Canada, this interactive map strives to be accessible and easy to use, while teaching stories and traditions. There are narratives, maps, and illustrations to best communicate their traditional knowledge using a technical platform.

Photo from Naonaiyaotit Traditional Knowledge Project Atlas. Visit the atlas and learn more here.

These are just a few examples of a growing movement to change the way we see and make maps.

We are constantly striving towards making the Marine Reference Guide more inclusive. Our Indigenous Research and Engagement Coordinators are working with the Squamish Nation towards including traditional language and and stories into our maps and resources. We are so excited to see the growth and change there is to come!