Using the Turtle Island Matrix to Support Economic Development Decisions by the Serpent River First Nation Environmental Review Panel

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM

Max McCormick, Manager Aboriginal Affairs, ARCADIS Canada Inc.

The Turtle Island matrix is a set of parameters that are based on the Anishinabek traditional worldview. The distinctive elements of this matrix demonstrate the relevance of a dynamic systems approach to the various components of the environment and their relationship to the first peoples of North America. The Turtle Island matrix is being used as a guide by the Serpent River First Nation Environmental Review Panel to describe the important aspects related to the people, the land and the economy that are of interest when considering a proposal for anything that may have an impact on Serpent River First Nation. We describe three decision support tools that combine scientific modeling and traditional knowledge based on the Turtle Island matrix. The first is a go/no-go checklist used to decide whether to proceed with an economic development project. The second is a model of the ongoing cumulative effect on the land, the people, and the economy of a series of economic development projects. The third is a prioritization tool to support resource allocation decisions in risk mitigation. In the development of these tools, the Environmental Review Panel has provided knowledge of the First Nation’s priorities.


Max McCormick is a citizen of the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario, Canada. He has over 23 years of experience in environmental site remediation as well as facilitation, engagement, and capacity building for many projects that have direct or indirect impacts on First Nation/Inuit communities across Canada. His corporate responsibilities encompass any projects specifically related to: maintaining health and socioeconomic conditions; physical and cultural heritage; use of land and resources for traditional purposes; and structures and sites that are of historical, archaeological, paleontological, or architectural significance.