Photo of Danika Littlechild

Danika Littlechild

Assistant Professor

Degrees:B.A. (Carleton), LL.B. (Toronto), LL.M. (Victoria)
Office:D487 Loeb Building

Danika Billie Littlechild is Cree from Ermineskin Cree Nation, Neyaskweyahk, Maskwacis (Alberta) in Treaty No. 6 territory. Prior to joining the Department of Law and Legal Studies in January of 2020, Danika practised law in Canada for almost two decades, advising Indigenous Peoples across Canada and internationally. Within Canada, Danika has served First Nations in the areas of environment, Indigenous Legal Orders, health and governance.

Danika has advised Indigenous representative organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations, as well as regional treaty-based organizations and PTOs. Internationally, Danika served as an advisor and Indigenous Peoples Representative in various UN mechanisms, treaty bodies and special procedures including participation in treaty body mechanisms, and standard setting negotiations such as the development of the SDGs as a member of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, and the intergovernmental process leading to the Minimata Convention on Mercury. She was an advisor to the North American representative on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for three years (2013-2016) and was general counsel for International Indian Treaty Council ( from 2011-2018, working internationally with Indigenous Peoples from the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Americas. Danika was the first Indigenous woman to be appointed as Vice-President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (2014-2018) after almost 15 years of working with CCUNESCO in various voluntary, leadership and advisory capacities.

Danika has focused much of her efforts over the past few decades on issues related to environment, water, climate change, sustainability and more recently conservation and biodiversity. Danika was the Co-Chair of the Indigenous Circle of Experts under the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative, intended to contribute to the realization of Canada’s commitments under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (

Current Research and Related Activities

Prof. Littlechild conducts research in the field of Ethical Space, an approach and concept introduced by Cree Scholar Willie Ermine. Ethical Space is an approach to relationality between and amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the natural world that facilitates transformative collaboration based on elevating Indigenous systems of knowledge, law, protocols and practices. Well established as a field of research in health, Danika is exploring its application in the areas of biodiversity conservation and environment.

Danika is leading the Ethical Space Research Stream of the Conservation through Reconciliation Project ( The Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership represents a seven year program of work hosted by the IISAAK OLAM Foundation, the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, and the University of Guelph that weaves together a wide range of partners including Indigenous thought leaders, organizations, youth and Elders; emerging and established scholars; prominent conservation agencies and organizations; Indigenous Peoples and Nations; and knowledge mobilization specialists, united in the goal of supporting Indigenous-led conservation in Canada.

Danika is a collaborator on a project working towards an Ethical Space of engagement for bridging multiple ways of knowing in aquatic research and monitoring. This project is building on the growing theoretical and empirical work that has been done regarding Ethical Space in the context of decision making, with a focus on research and monitoring.

Danika is a member of an Ethics Advisory and Stewardship Circle, convening Indigenous experts on Ethical Space from across Canada, to develop a seminal publication entitled “Ethical Guidance for Knowledge Sharing and Co-Creation” (Forthcoming)

Danika is a member of the Advisory Committee for Biodiversity Pathways in Canada, a project of FutureEarth that aims to inform the development of potential pathways towards the attainment of Canada’s commitments to post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the SDGs.

Danika is a contributing author to the Indigenous Resilience Report, a stand-alone report that will be released alongside the next National Climate Assessment. The report will centre on Indigenous Peoples as rights holders integral to climate policy decision making and will draw on Indigenous knowledge and explore multi-dimensional and intersecting aspects of climate impacts and actions.

Danika recently completed a project entitled “Operationalizing Ethical Space and Two-Eyed Seeing in Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and Crown Protected and Conserved Areas”, providing guidance for Pathway to Canada Target 1 members to help understand potential methodology and application of Ethical Space in the context of conservation initiatives, in particular Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs).

Teaching Interests

Prof. Littlechild teaches in the area of environmental and social justice, with a new course offering in Fall 2021 on Indigenous relations. She also frequently guest lectures in other Faculties at Carleton and in other universities. She has also taught at Indigenous post-secondary institutions including Maskwacis Cultural College in Treaty No. 6 territory.


  • Co-Author (Buxton, R. T., et al (2021).) Key information needs to move from knowledge to action for biodiversity conservation in Canada. Biological Conservation, 108983. Date of Acceptance: 26-Jan-2021 Available Online 18-Feb-2021
  • Co-Author (Littlechild, Danika, Finegan, Change and McGregor, Deb (Forthcoming) “Reconciliation” in Undergraduate Education in Canada: The Application of Indigenous Knowledge in Conservation. FACETS, Doi: 10.1139/facets-2020-0076 Date of Acceptance: 26-Jan-2021