Inside Look at Indigenous Issues. YL4S had a very special end-year workshop on indigenous communities at Kinabalu Park and Bundu Tuhan from 30th November to 3rd December 2017. The workshop-cum-field trip brought our Young Leaders to Kinabalu Park to witness the Kakakapan id Gayo Ngaran celebration, an annual pilgrimage to Mount Kinabalu for the Dusun communities who live in the surrounding areas. YL4S also had the honour of meeting the Council of Elders who shared their knowledge and stories on Dusun tradition and heritage. Seen here is one of Bundu Tuhan’s community leaders, Dominic Ghani, explaining the concept of ‘hutan bombon’ (community-led forest reserves).
The theme for this month’s workshop was Indigenous Communities and Conservation. This workshop-cum-excursion also gave the participants an opportunity to witness the Kakakapan Id Gayo Ngaran event, an annual pilgrimage to Mount Kinabalu undertaken by the local Dusun communities in the surrounding areas. This workshop took 3 night, 4 days.
The objective of this workshop was to provide a better understanding and insight on how to work with indigenous communities and a look at the various community-led conservation efforts in Sabah. The workshop was also pivotal in helping the participants draft their Action Agendas, which was presented on the final day.
A total of 12 participants attended the session, representing 4 institutions. Please refer to the Appendix for the attendance list. Also in attendance from the BEFF team were Dr. Agnes Agama, Adam Murphy, Melissa Leong and Chloe Lee Mei Tchuin.
Day 1, Session 1: Building the Action Agenda, After the briefing, participants worked individually on producing 15 Action Agendas each, to be presented by the end of the day. Participants learned the SMART approach in project management and were advised to keep these key points in mind when drafting ideas: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound. Upon completion, participants grouped the Action Agendas into categories:
- Waste management
- Eco tourism
- Community/Indigenous issues
A total of 180 ideas were produced that evening as the first step in drafting the Action Agendas.
Session 2: Indigenous Communities & Mt. Kinabalu, During this session, participants were given a brief explanation on the background and cultural history of indigenous people in this locality and the significance of Mount Kinabalu to them. This briefing was in preparation of the Kakakapan Id Gayo Ngaran celebration which they would be witnessing in the next two days. Among other issues discussed was cultural sensitivities and proper conduct when socializing with indigenous communities.
Day 2 started bright and early with participants departing for Timpohon Gate at 0600 in time to witness the Monolob ritual. The ritual includes offerings and live animal sacrifice to ensure a smooth and safe passage for the climbers of Mount Kinabalu during the Kakakapan id Gayo Ngaran. After the ritual, participants watched the start of the pilgrimage of climbers from Timpohon Gate before returning to their accommodation.
Session 3: Indigenous Communities & Nature Conservation, jointly conducted by Agnes and Adam. The session included a video screening of the first Kakakapan id Gayo Ngaran to give participants an inside view of the event from preparation to execution and an insight on the importance of the pilgrimage to the local communities. The session continued with a look at the various community-led nature conservation efforts in Sabah, such as the hutan bombon (forest reserve) managed by the Bundu Tuhan community. After lunch, the workshop continued with a game on identifying indigenous people of the world and sharing this newfound cultural knowledge with team members. After a short break, the participants geared up for another round Action Agenda drafting.
After much discussion and deliberation, participants reduced the number of Action Agendas to 40 until they finalise the Top 12 ideas.
Day 3 began with another intensive round of finalizing the Action Agenda during Session 5 of the workshop. All topics were fine-tuned and presented by the group leaders. The Top 12 Action Agendas are:
- No Straw Campus
- Improve waste management of Pulau Gaya communities through youth empowerment.
- Sustain the locality of Orang Sungai in riparian areas along the Kinabatangan river.
- EcoCamp: Tech4 Conservation – Using media and technology as a tool for environmental awareness
- Fish Bombing Assessment and Countermeasures in waters off Kudat
- Develop effective waste management on SAFMA KK.
- Youth Volunteer Program – Clean up Kampung Numbak.
- Clothes redistribution to the underprivileged
- Urban garden transformation in Kota Kinabalu
- Green Movement for Youth using creative media – Focus on Forest & Wildlife Conservation.
- Documentation of traditional buildings in Sabah
- Reduce/Eliminate plastic bag usage in one of KK’s leading shopping malls
Participants then headed to the Kinabalu Hall for lunch at the tamu (open air market) and to join the festivities at the hall. At the venue, participants witnessed the return of the community members who completed their pilgrimage. They were greeted with a traditional dance performance and ushered into the main hall.
The afternoon continued with a series of activities for the YL4S participants, including a tour of Kinabalu Park’s herbarium where participants caught a glimpse of how plants are collected, stored and documented; and an exclusive briefing on the Kinabalu Ecolinc project by Field Officer Andy Martin.
The final day of the trip started with an early breakfast before kicking off the final workshop for the weekend, Session 6: Ethics for working with Indigenous Communities, jointly conducted by Agnes and Adam. This session focused on the principles of FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) – an important guiding principle when working with indigenous people. Participants learned the importance of involving indigenous people in decision-making and acknolwedging their rights to self-determination and participation. This workshop was particularly useful for participants whose Action Agendas involved gathering data and doing research in areas that involved rural and indigenous communities.
Participants packed up and checked out of their lodging before proceeding to a tour of Bundu Tuhan Hutan Winokok and the surrounding sacred and historical sites. The group was met by the Ketua Kampung who gave a detailed explanation during the site visits. Participants visited a skull-display and learned about Bundu Tuhan’s head-hunting history and the rituals involved. They were also taken to the earliest settlement site in Bundu Tuhan where residents believed marked the beginnings of their community. We also had the privilege of spending time with the village elders who took the time to talk about their community-led conservation efforts in detail as well as efforts to preserve their culture.
Last, a tour of Bundu Tuhan Hutan Winokok and the surrounding sacred and historical sites. The group was met by the Ketua Kampung who gave a detailed explanation during the site visits.