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Ashli Akins, Director, Indigenous Homelands

Ashli Akins,
Director, Indigenous Home-Lands

Ashli Akins, Director, Indigenous Homelands

Ashli is a cultural ecologist, human rights legal analyst, social entrepreneur, and storyteller. She is passionate about cultural revitalization and sustainable development. Ashli is a National Geographic Explorer who is honoured to split her time between the Andean mountains of Peru and the Pacific Northwest of Canada — the traditional territories of the Quechua, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations.

Ashli has worked for over 15 years in collaboration with Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes. In 2006, she founded Mosqoy, a charitable organization that works to mitigate adverse effects of unsustainable tourism and development in the region. To do so, Mosqoy operates three keystone programs: a fair-trade textile program, a community-based tourism initiative, and a youth educational scholarship program.

In 2022, Ashli earned her PhD in interdisciplinary studies from the University of British Columbia, with support from the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. There, she explored the currently unsustainable relationship between culture, economy, and the environment. Her dissertation investigated how to safeguard cultural heritage in an era of rapid economic change, with specific attention to the Quechua textile tradition. Ashli previously graduated from the University of Oxford with a master’s in international human rights law, and received her bachelor’s from the University of Victoria in environmental studies, Latin American studies, and professional writing. She was named as both UVic’s 2019 Emerging Humanist of the Year and, in 2015, one of the top 50 alumni in history who have made a difference in the world. She is also a writer and photographer, and uses these art forms to educate about human rights and environmental injustices.

Ashli is an adventure junkie, and loves trekking, camping, and rock-climbing, especially if it includes her Andean mountain mutt, Kuki. Though she currently leads a deeply fulfilling and intellectually stimulating life, she sometimes finds herself dreaming of being a goat-farming beekeeping artisanal globemaker when she grows up.