Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge versus Modern Science
The mutual appreciation of two worlds
Pierre S. Haddad PhD
Department of Pharmacology
Université de Montréal
2011 GPS Event # 1: “Genomics Research and
Intellectual Property”,Ottawa, April 28, 2011
This talk is dedicated to the memory of Elders
Sam Awashish, René Coon Come,
Smally Petawabano and Sally Matthews
http://www.taam-emaad.umontreal.ca
WHY AM I HERE ??
• Bring point of view of Canadian Aboriginals
(First Nations, Inuit and Métis)
– Bad start : I’m NOT a Canadian Aboriginal
– Origins = S. Mediterranean + N. Africa/Middle-East
• Point of view of an academic doing research
on Aboriginal Health
2
HOW DOES ABORIGINAL TRADITIONAL
KNOWLEDGE LINK WITH GENOMICS RESEARCH??
• Hint from the Convention on Biodiversity
– Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) relating to
Genetic Resources
• Genetic resources in a broader sense
– Includes Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge
– Can be seen as an expression of human genomics
(past genes, past proteins, past even behavior)
• And Related IP
3
WHAT DOES INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MEAN
FOR ABORIGINALS??
CHALLENGING ISSUE
• They see themselves more as custodians of
Knowledge rather than actual owners
• They are inspired by Natural Laws that puts their
Knowledge at the service of others as opposed to
personal benefit
• They say that Knowledge is acquired AND gifted
• They feel a responsibility to protect Traditional
Knowledge
4
… AND HOW CAN THIS TRADITIONAL
KNOWLEDGE BE PROTECTED??
• Case study of the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research (CIHR) Team in Aboriginal
Antidiabetic Medicines
5
The People & their territory:
The Eeyouch (Cree)
of Eeyou Istchee
Population
• 15,000 Eeyouch (Cree)
• 9 communities
• 6 communities involved
in research project
Legaré et al, 2004 – Project of Diabetes Surveillance amongst the Cree of Eeyou Istchee
6
Two problems addressed
by the research project
1) The near abandonment of Cree healing practices
and practitioners from the 1950s or so.
• Nursing clinics  Cree Health Board
2) The sudden rise of the diabetes ‘epidemic’ from the
1990s.
7
Problem 2: Diabetes in northern Quebec Cree community
Age-adjusted prevalence of T2D in 2009
29%!!!
2009
Prevalance (%)
Prevalance (%)
Crude prevalence of T2D in adults > 20
in Eeyou Istchee area
25.5%
21.6%
Years
17.7%
Modified from Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay - CBHSSJB (2005)
7.0%
8.1%
7.6%
Kuzmina E, Lejeune P, Dannenbaum D, Torrie J. 2010. CREE Diabetes Information System CDIS): 2009 Annual Update. C
hisasibi, Québec: Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay
CIHR-TAAM RESEARCH PROJECT
• Explore Boreal forest plants traditionally used by the Cree to
target symptoms related to diabetes
• Goal: identify anti-diabetic plants which can be used by the
community to help treat diabetes
• How? - Collaborative Multidisciplinary Approach
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Cree Traditional Knowledge
Ethnobotany
Phytochemistry
Pharmacology
Toxicology
Clinical sciences
Health systems and policy
Specific concerns of Elders, communities,
Grand Council of the Cree and Cree Board
of Health concerning this project
• Safety issues in using traditional medicines for
diabetes care
• Unsupervised use of medicines by others (health
concern)
• Question of partnership between Elders and
Researchers
• Use of Eeyou knowledge without consent
• Ownership of intellectual property
10
Weak legal protection of Aboriginal
Traditional Knowledge in Canada
•
•
•
•
•
Ratified Convention on Biodiversity in 1992
However, no legislation to protect Aboriginal TK
Intellectual property laws not well adapted
Funding agencies’ policies exist since 2008
Thus, Best Approach =
– Agreements to govern transfer and use of Aboriginal TK
11
Eeyou anti-diabetic plants
Research Agreement
Parties:
•
•
•
•
6 Cree (Eeyou) communities
Cree Board of Health & Social Services of James Bay
3 Universities (Montréal, McGill, Ottawa)
1 university hospital (CHUM)
12
Key principles of agreement
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Confidentiality and Eeyou control over TK
Review of publications
Collaborative research
Joint ownership of intellectual property
Benefit-sharing
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1. Confidentiality of TK
and Eeyou control over use
• Eeyou medicinal knowledge is confidential
• Prior informed consent must be obtained from Band
and Elders Councils and individual participants
• Consent of Elders and communities is necessary to
publish or transfer knowledge
• Can only be used for specific research; consent
necessary to change/expand project
14
2. Review of publications
• Very important part of scientific research
• Risk that TK is disclosed inappropriately
• Solution = Formal Review Process
– Summary and translation into Cree
– Elders and communities review publications prior to it
being sent to editor
– Comments and extraction of TK if necessary
15
Researcher
travels to
discuss
results with
Elders
-13
-8
-2
-4
-1
0
+4
weeks
Researcher
provides new
version
Elders obtain
text and hold
meeting to
discuss
Comments
Researcher provides draft & summary
for
• other researchers
• representatives of Cree Health Bd
• concerned communities
Plain-language summary is prepared
and translated into Cree
Research Cttee (RC) and communities
concerned integrate Elders’
comments, tell researcher:
• if any parts should be kept
confidential
Other researchers, RC,
or communities
determine if CI has
been withdrawn; if
not, cannot be
published. If RC and/or
communities disagree
with interpretation,
article can be
published, but RC and
comm can include
statement.
Researcher
provides all
parties with
final version
as it will
appear in
print.
Publication deadline
As early as possible
Working Procedure for Review of Publications
and Similar Documents
RC and comms
provide
statement re
level of support
• what changes they recommend
Researcher extracts confidential
information (CI) and makes efforts to
integrate comments.
No comments
RC and communities indicate which
type of statement, if any, they want
integrated. Submission for publication
may proceed.
16
3. Collaborative community-based
participatory research
• Respect for Cree culture and
knowledge
• Transparency
– Regular meetings
– Reports to communities
– Review of publications
• Acknowledgement of Elders in
publications
• Communities involved in all stages
– Sharing ideas and knowledge
– Interpretation of results
17
4. Joint ownership of intellectual property
• Results and IP are jointly owned
• Elders/community members considered as co-authors,
depending on contribution
• Patent is a possibility but not best suited to protect TK
– Danger of commodification of Aboriginal TK
– Yet, minds are open (Communities and Elders have provided
consent concerning initial steps for one invention)
• Patenting: needs consent of Researchers and Universities
as well as communities (with consultation of Elders)
• 50% +1 ownership for the Cree entities; the rest for
Universities
18
5. Benefit sharing
•
•
•
•
•
Sharing of scientific knowledge
Jobs (1 full-time and occasional)
Herbaria, other materials
Training, apprenticeship (in progress)
If commercialisation, non-profit corporation created
(50% +1 Cree ownership)
• Revenues to be used for
– The preservation (passing on) of YK
– The inclusion of TM into health care
– The continued collaborative research with academic
scientists
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1) Respect = Treat Canadian Aboriginals as peers
Canadian Aboriginal TK as valuable as that of any other Canadian
Elders = Aboriginal Intellegentia ; Knowledge
holders/keepers/transmitters ; Experts in many fields (health,
forest resource management, climatic change, etc)
2) Respect = Truly Mutual ??
Involve Canadian Aboriginals from the onset of discussion (not as an
afterthought)
3) Respect = Take action
Let Aboriginal knowledge/wisdom permeate POLICY
MEGWETCH!! Thank you!!
Haddad lab
CIHR-TAAM Annual retreat
at Mistissini (2010)
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Can traditional aboriginal Healers and Medicines