After completing a Rural Waterline Feasibility Study in 2017 and an On-Reserve Source Water Protection Plan in 2018, the Saddle Lake Cree Nation retained Urban Systems Ltd. to complete a Climate Change and Source Water Vulnerability Assessment of the Nation’s water source, Saddle Lake, to understand the viability of the Nation’s water supply under impacts from climate change, and increased water demand due to population and economic growth. In October 2019, the Climate Change and Source Water Vulnerability Assessment was released.

Saddle Lake Cree Nation began this project by engaging our youth, elders and general membership in a dialogue about water, climate change and perceived adaptability to address water security. In past projects we have engaged our community in a similar way but have found it difficult to extend the results of the engagement and the project itself beyond those in attendance at the sessions. Because we are a community that traditionally shares knowledge through oral teachings, the idea of documenting the project in a video was proposed. The scope of this project included community engagement sessions, projecting future climate change events related to Saddle Lake, a water quantity assessment, a water quality assessment, and a documentary with the intention that this video will be used to educate our members about our impact assessment of climate change on our ability to fulfill our growing community’s basic need for water, as well as our efforts to preserve the lands, resources and culture of our people.

The community engagement sessions brought forward knowledge that validated historical hydrological modeling which informed future climate change projections. The Assessment revealed that increasing temperatures will magnify the negative impacts associated with contaminants entering the lake. To protect Saddle Lake from such impacts, the Saddle Lake Cree Nation recognized the need to implement the strategic plan previously identified in their 2017 Protection Plan. The Assessment found that Saddle Lake water levels are expected to increase, ensuring adequate water quantity for the community. Another outcome of the Assessment revealed that the water treatment plant is equipped to handle changes in water quality however additional funding is required to invest in the water treatment system and to train the next generation of operators (a vulnerability noted by this study).

Overall, the Assessment revealed that Saddle Lake will remain a viable long-term water source for the community. However, due to the importance of Saddle Lake as a water source for the community, a number of adaptation strategies were outlined for consideration and implementation to increase the resiliency of Saddle Lake and to ensure the continued supply of clean drinking water to the community. These adaptation strategies included:

  • Implementation of a buffer zone around the lake
  • Raising awareness of the Source Water Protection Plan in the community
  • Eliminate wastewater outfalls around the lake
  • Development of a water quality monitoring program
  • Development of a formal Water Treatment Plan performance monitoring program
  • Development of user-friendly summaries of day to day operations
  • Development of a standard operating procedures for the Water Treatment Plant
  • Confirmation that pathogen reduction recommendations are being met
  • Assessment of the environmental impacts of the Water Treatment Plant residual disposal
  • Hiring of an additional Water Treatment Plant operator
  • Conduct a full analysis of operations and maintenance costs for the Water Treatment Plant
  • Conduct a cost benefit analysis of continuing to operate and maintain the Water Treatment Plant
  • Completion of floodplain mapping for the lake
  • Investigation of the influence of neighboring communities and beaver damns on the inflow to Saddle Lake
  • Collect a depth profile of Saddle Lake to improve the understanding of the lake’s storage volume
  • Continue to pursue the rural waterline expansion project to improve water delivery to our homes
  • Engagement with the youth on source water protection, water treatment, and climate change
  • Conduction of a feasibility study for developing an emergency back-up water supply
  • Decommissioning of old groundwater wells

By commissioning the Climate Change and Source Water Vulnerability Assessment, the Saddle Lake Cree Nation were able to gain a better understanding of the future of their water supply, Saddle Lake, under climate change and could begin developing plans on how to address such changes.

Saddle Lake Water Treatment Plant

Figure 1. Saddle Lake Water Treatment Plant

 

Blog Article by: Saddle Lake Cree Nation

Program Overview

In December 2017, the governments of Canada and Alberta renewed their commitment to provide clear and scientifically rigorous information about the environmental impacts of oil sands development in northeastern Alberta. This commitment also called for greater collaboration with representatives from local Indigenous communities to encourage Indigenous involvement in monitoring priorities and decisions.

The Government of Canada has committed up to $2 million annually to develop capacity for community-based environmental monitoring in the oil sands region that is designed and led by Indigenous communities. This funding opportunity will build capacity and provide an opportunity for community leadership in environmental monitoring design and implementation.

Environmental monitoring involves the systematic collection of samples and specimens from the air, water and land to determine the extent of impacts on the natural ecosystems and habitats. Project requirements are to be established by the community and based on their priorities.

While this opportunity complements the Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM) program in terms of its geographic scope and with its focus on environmental monitoring, the funding is separate from that of the OSM Program. Communities are not limited to environmental monitoring of impacts of oil sands development, but can consider environmental monitoring more generally in the oil sands region, or as it relates to ongoing or proposed resource development in the oil sands region.

Available Funding

The total amount of funding available under this program is up to $2 million annually. Owing to currently funded projects, there is $250,000 in funding available for new projects in 2020-2021. A project can run from one to three years and it is expected that funding will be in the range of $150,000 per year. However, consideration will be given to projects whose costs are higher or lower than this amount.

Who can apply?

Indigenous communities are eligible to receive funding through this program if they are located within the Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM) program boundaries (defined by provincial oil sands deposits layer) or with a designated interest in the OSM area (defined by the 160-km interim buffer as per Alberta Environment and Parks’ Métis Harvesting Policy 2010). This includes those First Nations, Métis Organizations and Métis Locals listed in the following table.

Indigenous communities can work with external partners, as long as their roles and responsibilities are clearly detailed in the project proposal. Examples of external partners include:

– other Indigenous communities

– federal, provincial, or regional governments

– non-governmental organizations

– academic institutions

– consultants

First Nations

Métis Organizations

Métis Nation of Alberta Locals

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement

#100 Bonnyville

Beaver Lake Cree Nation

East Prairie Métis Settlement

#116 West Parkland

Bigstone Cree Nation

Elizabeth Métis Settlement

#125 Fort Chipewyan

Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation

Fishing Lake Métis Settlement

#1886 & #2085 Edmonton

Cold Lake First Nation

Gift Lake Métis Settlement

#1909 Lakeland

Dene Tha’ First Nation

Kikino Métis Settlement

#1929 Valleyview

Driftpile Cree Nation

Peavine Métis Settlement

#193 Conklin

Duncan’s First Nation

MNA Region 1

#1935 Fort McMurray

Fort McKay First Nation

MNA Region 2

#1949 Owl River

Fort McMurray First Nation

MNA Region 5

#1954 Big Bay /

Touchwood Lake

Frog Lake First Nation

MNA Region 6

#1990 Grande Prairie

Heart Lake First Nation

#1994 Cadotte Lake

Horse Lake First Nation

#207 Fairview

Kapawe’no First Nation

#2002 Buffalo Lake

Kehewin Cree Nation

#2010 Athabasca Landing

Little Red River Cree Nation

#2012 Lloydminister

Loon River First Nation

#2020 Fort McMurray

Lubicon First Nation

#2097 Lac la Biche

Mikisew Cree First Nation

#55 Gunn

Onion Lake Cree Nation

#78 Peace River

Peerless Trout First Nation

#780 Willow Lake (Anzac)

Saddle Lake Cree Nation

#83 Fort McKay

Sawridge First Nation

#90 Wabasca

Sucker Creek First Nation

Swan River First Nation

Tallcree First Nation

Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation

Whitefish Lake (Atikameg) First Nation

Woodland Cree First Nation

Project Considerations

Projects are to consider the following key components as they relate to environmental monitoring:

– Community-driven or supported initiative

– Encourage action towards the protection, conservation and positive impact on the environment

– Inclusive of relevant knowledge, which could include, but is not limited to, Indigenous Knowledge and science

– Opportunities for training and/or youth engagement

– Data management plan to collect, manage, store and share data resulting from the project

The following are examples of types of projects that may be considered eligible:

– Increase the capacity to engage effectively in environmental management, and assess results and progress, as well as undertake activities related to networking, sharing of information and outreach

– Produce scientific research and monitoring related to ecosystem status, assessment and reporting, as well as research into the development of new technologies related to those issues

– Awareness, training, outreach or behavioural change projects on a specific environmental issue

– Establish, coordinate and update local or regional action plans and strategies

– Restoration of areas of concern or of special interest

How to apply?

1. Confirmation of community support for the proposed project is required. Proposals that are submitted without this confirmation will not be considered further.

2. Complete a project proposal, which must address, at minimum, the following key components.

– Title of the project/initiative

– Description of responsible community, organization or individual: this should include, but not be limited to, contact, expertise, and role in the project

– Description of partners: this should include, but not be limited to, information on all partners to the project, their expertise, and role in the project

– Location and duration: specify the project duration and location

– Project summary: provide a general overview of the project, including objectives and rationale, as well as alignment with this program

– Proposed work plan: detail how the applicant will scope, implement, and manage the project’s goals within the planned budget for the full duration of the project

– Expected results: specify expected results and how achievement of these results might be measured

– Project costs: summary of project costs, including a statement of the funds required from ECCC, and of other cash and in-kind contributions secured for the full duration of the project

3. Submit the project proposal and letter of community support by email to ec.surveillancedessablesbitumineux-oilsandsmonitoring.ec@canada.ca. The deadline for project proposal submission is midnight Eastern Time on Tuesday, 10 March 2020.

For more information

Inquiries can be directed to ec.surveillancedessablesbitumineux-oilsandsmonitoring.ec@canada.ca.

Next Steps

All applicants will receive an acknowledgement of receipt of their proposals. An evaluation committee will review the proposals based on the program goals and requirements. All applicants will be notified as to the outcome of this evaluation. Successful applicants will be required to provide input into the contribution agreement detailing the terms and conditions of funding.

 

NOTE: Click here for PDF (Printable) version of this posting.

 

French version below:


Fonds autochtone pour la surveillance environnementale communautaire

Aperçu du programme

En décembre 2017, les gouvernements du Canada et de l’Alberta ont renouvelé leur engagement à fournir des données claires et scientifiquement rigoureuses sur les impacts environnementaux de l’exploitation des sables bitumineux dans le nord-est de l’Alberta. Cet engagement préconisait également une plus grande collaboration avec les représentants des collectivités autochtones locales afin d’encourager les Autochtones à s’investir dans les priorités et les décisions en matière de surveillance.

Le gouvernement du Canada s’est engagé à verser jusqu’à 2 millions de dollars par année pour développer une capacité en matière de surveillance environnementale communautaire dans la région des sables bitumineux conçue et dirigée par les collectivités autochtones. Ce financement permettra de renforcer la capacité et favorisera le leadership communautaire pour la conception et la mise en oeuvre d’une surveillance environnementale.

La surveillance environnementale englobe la collecte systématique d’échantillons et de spécimens de l’air, de l’eau et des terres afin de déterminer l’étendue des répercussions sur les écosystèmes naturels et les habitats. Les exigences liées aux projets seront établies par la communauté et en fonction de ses priorités.

Bien que cette opportunité complémente le programme de surveillance des sables bitumineux (SSB) en termes de portée géographique et de concentration sur la surveillance environnementale, le financement est distinct de celui du programme SSB. Les collectivités ne sont pas limitées à la surveillance environnementale des impacts du développement des sables bitumineux, mais peuvent tenir compte de la surveillance environnementale plus générale, ou en ce qui concerne le développement en cours ou proposé des ressources dans la région des sables bitumineux.

Financement disponible

Le montant total de financement disponible dans le cadre de ce programme ira jusqu’à 2 000 000 $ par année. En raison des projets actuellement financés, 250 000 $ de financement sont disponibles pour de nouveaux projets en 2020-2021. Un projet peut durer de un à trois ans et le financement pourrait alors être de l’ordre de 150 000 $ par année. Toutefois, les projets dont les coûts sont supérieurs ou inférieurs à ce montant seront aussi pris en compte.

Admissibilité

Les collectivités autochtones qui se trouvent dans les limites du programme de Surveillance des sables bitumineux (SSB) (définies par les couches de dépôts de sables bitumineux) ou ayant un intérêt désigné dans la région de SSB (définie par une zone tampon provisoire de 160 km conformément à la Politique sur la récolte des Métis de 2010 du ministère de l’Environnement et des Parcs de l’Alberta). Il s’agit des Premières Nations, des organisations de Métis et des sections locales de l’association de la Nation métisse (ANM) de l’Alberta indiquées dans le tableau ci-dessous.

Les collectivités autochtones peuvent collaborer avec des partenaires externes, dans la mesure où leurs rôles et responsabilités sont clairement décrits dans la proposition de projet. Voici des exemples de partenaires externes :

– autres collectivités autochtones;

– gouvernements fédéral, provinciaux ou régionaux;

– organisations non gouvernementales;

– établissements d’enseignement;

– experts-conseils.

Premières Nations

Organisations de Métis

Sections locales de l’ANM de l’Alberta

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement

#100 Bonnyville

Beaver Lake Cree Nation

East Prairie Métis Settlement

#116 West Parkland

Bigstone Cree Nation

Elizabeth Métis Settlement

#125 Fort Chipewyan

Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation

Fishing Lake Métis Settlement

#1886 & #2085 Edmonton

Cold Lake First Nation

Gift Lake Métis Settlement

#1909 Lakeland

Dene Tha’ First Nation

Kikino Métis Settlement

#1929 Valleyview

Driftpile Cree Nation

Peavine Métis Settlement

#193 Conklin

Duncan’s First Nation

MNA Region 1

#1935 Fort McMurray

Fort McKay First Nation

MNA Region 2

#1949 Owl River

Fort McMurray First Nation

MNA Region 5

#1954 Big Bay /

Touchwood Lake

Frog Lake First Nation

MNA Region 6

#1990 Grande Prairie

Heart Lake First Nation

#1994 Cadotte Lake

Horse Lake First Nation

#207 Fairview

Kapawe’no First Nation

#2002 Buffalo Lake

Kehewin Cree Nation

#2010 Athabasca Landing

Little Red River Cree Nation

#2012 Lloydminister

Loon River First Nation

#2020 Fort McMurray

Lubicon First Nation

#2097 Lac la Biche

Mikisew Cree First Nation

#55 Gunn

Onion Lake Cree Nation

#78 Peace River

Peerless Trout First Nation

#780 Willow Lake (Anzac)

Saddle Lake Cree Nation

#83 Fort McKay

Sawridge First Nation

#90 Wabasca

Sucker Creek First Nation

Swan River First Nation

Tallcree First Nation

Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation

Whitefish Lake (Atikameg) First Nation

Woodland Cree First Nation

Considérations relatives aux projets

Les projets doivent envisager les éléments clés suivants en matière de surveillance environnementale :

– initiative appuyée ou dirigée par la collectivité;

– encouragement de la protection de l’environnement, sa conservation et des répercussions positives sur l’environnement;

– intégration de connaissances pertinentes, comme, mais pas seulement, des savoirs autochtones et des connaissances scientifiques;

– possibilités de formation ou de participation des jeunes;

– plan de gestion des données visant à collecter, à gérer, à conserver et à échanger les données découlant du projet.

Voici des exemples de types de projets pouvant être considérés comme admissibles.

– Accroître la capacité à participer efficacement à la gestion de l’environnement, à évaluer les résultats et les progrès, ainsi qu’à entreprendre des activités liées au réseautage, à l’échange d’information et à la sensibilisation.

– Produire des recherches scientifiques et des activités de surveillance liées à l’état de l’écosystème, à l’évaluation et à la production de rapports, ainsi que des recherches sur le développement de nouvelles technologies liées à ces enjeux.

– Projets d’éducation, de formation, de sensibilisation ou de changement de comportement sur un enjeu environnemental précis.

– Établissement, coordination et mise à jour de stratégies et de plans d’action locaux ou régionaux.

– Restauration des secteurs préoccupants ou d’intérêt particulier.

Comment présenter une demande?

1. Obtenir la confirmation de l’appui de la collectivité au projet proposé. Les propositions soumises sans cette confirmation seront rejetées.

2. Remplir une proposition de projet qui doit contenir, au minimum, les principaux éléments suivants :

– le titre du projet ou de l’initiative;

– la description de la collectivité, de l’organisation ou de la personne responsable, notamment ses coordonnées, son expertise et son rôle dans le projet;

– la description des partenaires, notamment des renseignements sur tous les partenaires du projet, leur expertise et leur rôle dans le projet;

– le lieu et la durée du projet;

– le résumé du projet, qui fournit un aperçu général du projet, y compris ses objectifs et sa justification, et la façon dont il s’inscrit dans le programme;

– le plan de travail proposé, indiquant en détail la façon dont le demandeur définira, mettra en oeuvre et gérera les objectifs du projet dans les limites du budget prévu pendant toute la durée du projet;

– les résultats attendus et la façon dont la réalisation de ces résultats sera mesurée;

– les coûts du projet résumés, notamment l’énoncé des fonds demandés à ECCC ainsi que des autres contributions en espèces et en nature obtenues pour toute la durée du projet.

3. Envoyer la proposition de projet et la lettre de soutien de la collectivité par courriel à ec.surveillancedessablesbitumineux-oilsandsmonitoring.ec@canada.ca. La date limite de présentation des propositions de projet est le mardi 10 mars 2020, à minuit (heure de l’Est).

Pour de plus amples renseignements

Les demandes de renseignements peuvent être envoyées à l’adresse suivante : ec.surveillancedessablesbitumineux-oilsandsmonitoring.ec@canada.ca.

Prochaines étapes

Tous les demandeurs recevront un accusé de réception de leur les propositions. Un comité d’évaluation examinera les propositions en fonction des objectifs et des exigences du programme. Tous les candidats 4

seront informés du résultat de cette évaluation. Les candidats retenus devront fournir leurs commentaires sur l’accord de contribution précisant les modalités du financement.

PDF

Beginning in October of 2018, two members of the Gift Lake Métis Settlement began training as Environmental Monitors through a partnership between the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program and the Gift Lake Métis Settlement. Gift Lake is a small Métis community located roughly 400 km northwest of Edmonton, Alberta and sits in the heart of the boreal forest. It is surrounded by rich vegetation, forests and many water bodies left behind by ancient glacial meltdown. Once the Gift Lake Environmental Guardianship Program began, we focused on the primary concerns of the people within the community. This started with one-on-one interaction with elders through interviews and surveys filled with questions relating to the similarities and changes in the environment and climate of Gift Lake over the years. Through this communication it was clear what our goals would be: educating ourselves and the community, while maintaining a balance between a scientific approach to research and a sense of community through human interaction and methodology.

An elder in the community said, “nothing connects us more to our culture than the land.” She was right. Indigenous people have had a very close tie to the environment for millennia. Now we can tie culture, science and education to protect our culture through the protection of our invaluable environment. We immediately enrolled in Environmental Education programs and soon we were out in the field daily. Our efforts were split into 6 categories: air, weather, water, vegetation, traditional plants and wildlife while making sure to continually have an active presence and relationship with the community. Weather monitoring stations were installed on the north and south ends of the community and the data is collected daily in the effort to fill a data gap that has existed in the area until now. A water monitoring project was initiated through field level testing. Our main goal for the water monitoring efforts is to note any major or alarming trends that could affect quality of the water which would affect the quality of life for all living things. From our tests, three initiatives were born: bridge building for ATV stream crossings, ongoing lake sweeps for abandoned nets and waste, and the continual monitoring of the water levels in our three largest lakes.

On top of taking a scientific initiative to learn about the land and climate, we also wanted to bring awareness to the community. We have taken the opportunity to be part of land-based learning activities at the K-9 school through facilitating workshops on topics including dendrochronology, climate change, drone flying, rabbit snaring, traditional herbs and even gun safety. A High School in High Prairie, Alberta also invited us to speak to students and introduce the prospect of being employed in the environmental field. We would speak on issues regarding climate change and relate on a more personal level including our successes, struggles and overall experiences growing up in a small Indigenous community and moving into adulthood. In the spring of 2019 two high school students were hired as trainees and included in all our environmental, climate action and community engagement activities. We did this not only to teach, but to instill the importance of the environment by introducing them to the beauty of their surroundings and the amount of gratification and confidence that comes from protecting our lifeline. The youth have taken part in dendrochronology (tree aging), bridge building, water testing, weather monitoring, wildlife monitoring, well-site reclamation, tree planting, marking traditional herb GPS waypoints, facilitating a large cultural camp with 7 other communities and numerous community engagement events. They have also been given the opportunity to take part in community-based projects such as designing and building the community two new welcome signs, starting a community garden, building a children’s park and initiating a garbage clean-up with elementary school children; allowing them to play a mentorship role as well. Since returning to school both youths have contacted us expressing how much they loved the program and how they hope to come back next summer. This is the level of interest and environmental responsibility we wish to instill within the entire community.

The struggle to succeed does weigh heavy on us at times and we understand the differences in everyone’s views about climate change and environmental protection. We have seen failures, but they are over-shadowed by successes. Our environmental and climate change programs are only in their beginning stages and programs like this are extremely new to everyone around us. We welcome the challenge and treat our roles as a major responsibility to act as champions for the land. We believe there is only one possible way to achieve that: to be role models among the people.

 

Installation of north end weather monitor

Installation of north end weather monitor

 

Building ATV crossing on a fish bearing stream

 

Community garbage clean-up

Community garbage clean-up

 

Climate change workshop during Gift Lake Culture Camp

Climate change workshop during Gift Lake Culture Camp

 

Gift Lake Culture Camp

Gift Lake Culture Camp

 

Youth trainees on left after completing the construction of a small playground

Youth trainees on left after completing the construction of a small playground

 

Youth trainees after finding a 1950 Buick Riviera while marking waypoints on historical trails

Youth trainees after finding a 1950 Buick Riviera while marking waypoints on historical trails

 

Mentorship during reclamation project on abandoned well-site

Mentorship during reclamation project on abandoned well-site

 

Youth use an increment borer to find the age of a tree

Youth use an increment borer to find the age of a tree

 

Youth expresses his love for a 150-year-old tree

Youth expresses his love for a 150-year-old tree

 

Youth pulls abandoned gill net from Utikumasis Lake during lake sweep

Youth pulls abandoned gill net from Utikumasis Lake during lake sweep

 

Pre-school session on the importance of moose. Included making birch bark callers

Pre-school session on the importance of moose. Included making birch bark callers

 

Grade 3 and 4 nature walk. Session on the role of rabbits in the environment and traditional snaring activity

Grade 3 and 4 nature walk. Session on the role of rabbits in the environment and traditional snaring activity

Grade 3 and 4 nature walk with information session

Grade 3 and 4 nature walk with information session

 

High School presentation and information session

High School presentation and information session

 

One of two signs designed and installed by Gift Lake Youth

One of two signs designed and installed by Gift Lake Youth

 

New community garden

New community garden

 

Author: Gift Lake Métis Settlement