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  • Nike Shoe Design Stolen from Guna Indigenous Women and Marketed as Puerto Rican
    Just weeks before the new “Puerto Rican-themed” Nike Air Force 1 shoes were to be released, Nike cancelled the whole thing. The so-called Puerto Rican design was in fact an outright copy of a traditional mola design unique to the Guna, an Indigenous tribe from Guna Yala in Panama and from parts of Colombia. The Guna people quickly made it…
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  • Walking the Talk in Reconciliation: Federal Court Issues Decision in Indigenous Languages
    For the first time in history, a Canadian court has issued a ruling in two Indigenous languages. The ruling in Whalen v Fort McMurray No 468 First Nation by the Canadian Federal Court – a summary of which was issued in both Cree and Dene – overturned the suspension of Fort McMurray No. 468 First Nation band councillor Samantha Whalen.…
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  • 40th WIPO IGC: Mixed Impressions as Experts Seek a New Mandate
    Pre-Session Strategy Meetings Experts and delegates gathered in Geneva for the 40th session of the WIPO IGC, which commenced on June 17 and ended on June 21. With a crowded agenda, the 40thsession marks the last session for the 2018-2019 biennium. In preparation for this meeting, two countries, South Africa and Indonesia, each organized pre-IGC workshop and consultative meetings…
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What is the best way to ensure Aboriginal-sensitive access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources?

Our team of researchers has conducted in-depth focus groups across Canada, gathering representatives from Indigenous communities and organizations to discuss how best to protect their interests through access and benefit sharing policies.


Rosy Periwinkle

Catharanthus roseus is a shrubby flower  native to Madagascar. The plant has long been used in traditional medicines. Its root is currently used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Recent patents by pharmaceutical companies, without compensation, have led to accusations of biopiracy.


Called Llhoba by the San people of the Namib desert, this spiny succulent is known for its medicinal properties. Its flowers smell like rotten meat and it is pollinated by flies. The plant is popular in western holistic medicine as an appetite suppressant and is being closely studied by pharmaceutical companies.


Teff, or xaafii in Oromo, is a cereal grain that is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Teff is traditionally important in these areas as a food grain because of its high nutritional content. Teff has become popular in the west as gluten-free diets have become more common. It is a frequent ingredient in gluten-free beer.

Endod Berry

Commonly called the African soapberry, endod berries are native to Tropical and Southern Africa. They have traditionally  been used as a soap and shampoo. The berry has a number of genetic uses, and research indicates it may also be effective in controlling schistosomiasis - a parasitic disease.


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