The Polis Foundation

The Polis Foundation is a Canadian registered charitable not for profit organization based in Victoria, B.C. It was established in 2001 to conduct and disseminate research relating to environmental sustainability (broadly defined), to increase the public’s understanding of the environment and environmental sustainability, and to create educational resources related to environmental sustainability. “Sustainability” means living and managing activities in a way that balances social, cultural, economic, environmental and institutional considerations to meet the needs of this and future generations.

The Polis Foundation has an ongoing partnership with the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria, supporting educative and outreach aspects of projects and initiatives. The Polis Foundation shares the POLIS Project’s mission to support ecological thinking and action as a core value and practice in all aspects of society, and to prioritize relational approaches to community-based collaboration and stewardship that foster intercultural understanding, value multiple ways of knowing, and respect Indigenous rights and responsibilities.

Sample current and past projects, programs and initiatives supported by The Polis Foundation include:

Keepers of Life: Indigenous Stewards of Living Earth (2022 – ongoing)

The Keepers of Life: Indigenous Stewards of Living Earth is a new storytelling initiative led by Dr. Gleb Raygorodetsky, which strives to grow global recognition of the critical role that Indigenous stewardship plays in sustaining biocultural diversity, adapting to and abating climate change, and the importance of upholding the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to care for their ancestral territories.

Climate and Arts Program (2021 – ongoing)

Funded by the Victoria Foundation through the Gail O’Riordan Climate and the Arts Legacy Fund, the Climate and the Arts Program is a collaboration between Polis and Creatively United for the Planet Society. The program seeks to change human consciousness about the oncoming climate crisis by combining science with the performing arts, drawing on core values of:

  • living within nature’s limits
  • an economy based on shared values not share-holder values
  • self-interest aligned with caring for the planet
  • advancing a universal consciousness.

The Climate and Arts Program has created a Community Solutions Hub to provide climate change solutions that face our society today. It includes a multitude of positive and simple solutions, videos, events, information and resources that contribute to healthier, happier individuals and communities.

Refresh Water Innovation Lab (2018 – ongoing)

Refresh is a collaboration involving Watersheds BC, BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative and the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. Refresh is catalyzing new and innovative approaches to achieving watershed security in British Columbia. The work focuses on convening dialogues involving diverse perspectives and knowledge holders to advance a vision and plan for how we fund, train and develop the skills of our current and future watershed leaders in BC’s watershed sector. Dialogues involve Indigenous Nations, local governments, businesses, philanthropic and non-profit sectors, and the provincial government. The work of Refresh is resulting in concrete solutions and actions to ensure BC has the capacity and abilities to deliver on world class watershed management and stewardship. In 2021, Refresh brought together the Sustainable Funding Working Group – 16 Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts and knowledge holders – to craft a bold vision for the development of a BC Watershed Security Fund, a current  provincial government commitment that can play a major in improving the health of our watersheds, advancing Indigenous rights, supporting rural economic development, and bolstering climate resilience.

Bundling Solutions (2017-2018)

Funded by Parks Canada Pathway to Canada Target 1 and led by Iisaak Olam Foundation, Bundling Solutions was a program conceived and headed by Eli Enns that enabled Polis to support the initial work of the Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) to host and document exchanges that took place through four regional gatherings across Canada in 2018. The Pathway to Canada Target 1: Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) Regional Gatherings on Indigenous Conservation and Protected Areas led to the report of the Indigenous Circle of Experts (2018) We Rise Together.


IMAGE (Photo Credit: Megan Spencer): Principles and Values Breakout session facilitated by Kelly Bannister as part of Indigenous Circle of Experts Western Regional Gathering, Tofino, B.C. in 2017.