The community of Kahnawà:ke has observed erosion of the natural shoreline over the years, with particularly high-water levels and flooding in 2017. The shoreline and flood levels have also been impacted by interventions in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence, including construction of the seaway. With increased variability in weather patterns as a result of climate change, the community has identified a need to plan for rising water levels and shoreline erosion. In the Kahnawà:ke community, erosion & flooding poses a particular threat to houses & properties located directly on the shoreline, but also to fishing & recreation areas and a secondary drinking water inlet pipe location. We proposed to undertake a project that included a shoreline vulnerability assessment with an emphasis on the impact of climate change on shoreline erosion and flooding along the natural shoreline of the St. Lawrence River within the community of Kahnawà:ke.

We partnered with Shoreplan Engineering and with community members to complete the shoreline vulnerability assessment. Shoreplan conducted a technical coastal engineering assessment which included compiling existing data, completing a review of current & historic orthoimagery, conducting site visits to gather & quantify new data, assessing existing erosion control and the proposal of solutions to on-going erosion and flooding. The shoreline vulnerability assessment included both erosion and flood hazard assessments to determine the vulnerability of our community’s shoreline. The erosion hazard assessment allowed us to determine which structures along our shoreline are at risk of erosion in the future. The erosion hazard assessment revealed that the most significant cause of erosion on the studied shoreline was due to wind wave action, particularly at higher water levels. Wake generated by passing ships further contributed to erosion potential. The flood hazard assessment provided flood hazard limits to our community to help direct future development. It was discovered that a 20-year return period west-wind storm occurring at the 100-year water level will cause uprush that will overtop the riverbank and protection structures everywhere along the study area.

In addition to these field activities, we also hired a community member to conduct public awareness campaigns that addressed climate change in general as well as specifically in relation to this project. The hired community member also distributed a survey to land holders within the project study area to gauge impressions of erosion and flooding on land holder’s properties. Lastly, we hosted an open house event to provide additional information and gather input from the community.

A list of proposed options to address erosion and flooding along the shoreline were provided and tailored to specific reaches of the shore. These methods prioritized ‘soft’ solutions while also outlining the key characteristics for successful implementation of more engineered solutions if an individual landholder choses that approach. Among the natural methods it was suggested to use and enhance vegetation species already present on the landscape to reduce the erosive effects of wave action. This could include the implementation of a planting program with the goal of planting more of these local species of vegetation.  Infrastructure solutions discussed included the use of revetments, stacked armour stone walls, bulkheads or seawalls, groynes, breakwaters, and bioengineering alternatives.


Blog post: Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke

The Imalirijiit (Those who study water in Inuktitut) Program began in 2016 following a partnership between local organizations in Kangiqsualujjuaq (Nunavik, Quebec), and a group of university-based researchers. Kangiqsualujjuamiut were concerned about the possibility of a rare earth elements (REE) mining project starting its operations in the upper watershed of the George River (Strange Lake). The George River is essential to the traditional activities of fishing, hunting and gathering and the community wanted to start its own long-term community-based environmental monitoring program to collect baseline (or reference) data before any mining activities impact the water and environment quality in the watershed.

The Imalirijiit program includes Science land camps (Nunami Sukuijainiq), training workshops, and biomonitoring of atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial conditions in the George River watershed, as well as interactive mapping of land use and local knowledge.

The community aims to track changes in its changing environment, especially by involving the youth in environmental stewardship. Among other things, they are studying the evolution of vegetation over the last 50 years in the river’s watershed. They are also developing a component for monitoring the abundance and characteristics of locally available shoreline country food species (Tininnimiutait), such as seaweeds (kuanniq), mussels (uviluq), clams (ammuumajuk) and other animals that are harvested or that provide a food source for the harvested species in Nunavik marine waters. This new aspect aims to enhance the dietary quality of these organisms and improve our food security and sovereignty.

Imalirijiit intends to stimulate interests toward science, and provide scientific educational and training opportunities for youth and other community members, through a land-based and hands-on approach. It also fosters intergenerational and intercultural knowledge exchanges and provides local jobs (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Objectives of the Imalirijiit Program.

Figure 2. 2019 Science Land Camp.

Figure 3. Collection of macroinvertebrates in the sediments at the bottom of a small tributary of the George River.

Figure 4. Collection of lichens for monitoring the air quality.

Figure 5. Tree coring to characterize the tree population (e.g. age and growth).



Look at our 2019-2020 report!
IMALIRIJIIT and NUNAMI SUKUIJAINIQ – Winter 2020. Results Summary for Community Organizations and Contributors.

Watch our videos!
NUNAMI SUKUIJAINIQ, 2020. Short documentaries series about the 2019 Science Land Camp on the George River, Nunavik.
10 minutes version:
4 minutes version:
1-minute trailer:

Visit our websites!


Article By: The Imalirijiit Team, June 2020.

In 2018, the Ekuanitshit Innu community, in partnership with the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute (FNQLSDI), launched a project to restore and protect the coastal habitats along the traditional territory of Nitassinan.

The coastal stabilization project, entitled “Preserving the Coastal Habitats of Nitassinan” and created in 2016, stems from targeted activities in the Ekuanitshit community’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan. This project addresses the concerns of its members regarding the erosion of the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Actually, coastal erosion threatens the community’s infrastructure, leads to losses of territory and has an impact on activities taking place along the shoreline. Moreover, this phenomenon is intensifying as a result of climate change.

Preserving the coastal habitats of Nitassinan

Initiated in 2018, the project spans three years and its main objective is to the restore the sites degraded by coastal erosion and which community members deem to be priorities. The project was made possible through the financial contribution of the Community Interaction Program (CIP) under the 2011‒2026 St. Lawrence Action Plan.

The project also includes community mobilization activities, awareness workshops, a best practices guide for coastal environments (now available in French and soon in Innu), awareness panels and a data update on the coastal changes of the Nitassinan. These activities are carried out in collaboration with the Council of the Innu of Ekuanitshit, the Kanikaniteht Business Centre, the Innu House of Culture, the Gulf North Shore Zip Committee, the Youth Centre, the Teueikan School, Innu Natukuna and the Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières (dynamics and integrated management of coastal areas laboratory) of the University of Quebec in Rimouski.

With the support of community members, the first year of the project focused on the identification and characterization of the priority sites to be restored. Two so-called soft techniques were chosen for the restoration:
– Revegetation: this technique involves planting native stabilizing plants along the river so that their roots will retain sand;
– Sand catchers: owing to the installation of snow fences set up in a zig-zag pattern, this technique makes it possible to rebuild damaged dunes by creating an accumulation of sand at their base.

Summer 2019 was spent restoring selected sites, one of which is in front the Innu House of Culture, and another is located in the western end of the community. To accomplish this, 80-meter sand catchers were installed and an area of 4,100 square meters was revegetated through the planting of 50,000 sand ryegrass and ammophilia plants. Plants used in traditional practices, such as raspberry and juniper, were also planted in collaboration with Innu Natukuna.

Monitoring the restored sites will begin this fall and will be spread out over a year in order to maximize the viability of the habitats. Mobilization and awareness activities with community members (from children to seniors) will also continue until the end of the project.

We thank the community members who have supported the restoration work, in one way or another, and also we thank the Gulf North Shore ZIP Committee for their technical support!

Some measures to protect coastal habitats

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” So, taking care of the coast is the best way to prevent coastal erosion.

So, here are some eco-responsible actions that each one of us can adopt:
– Walking or riding on access trails;
– On the shore, walking or riding as close as possible to the water;
– Being mindful of plants by avoiding stepping on them;
– Always taking our garbage to specified locations.

We are responsible for acting right now to preserve and sustain our land. The ball is in your court!

Des plantes pour limiter l’érosion côtière à Ekuanitshit

La communauté innue d’Ekuanitshit, en partenariat avec l’Institut de développement durable des Premières Nations du Québec et du Labrador (IDDPNQL), a amorcé en 2018 un projet de restauration et de protection des habitats côtiers qui longent le territoire traditionnel, le Nitassinan.

Le projet de stabilisation côtière, intitulé « Préserver les habitats littoraux du Nitassinan » et créé en 2016, découle des activités ciblées dans le plan d’adaptation aux changements climatiques de la communauté d’Ekuanitshit. Ce projet répond aux inquiétudes de ses membres face à l’érosion des berges du Saint-Laurent. En effet, l’érosion côtière menace les infrastructures de la communauté, entraine des pertes de territoire et affecte les activités pratiquées le long de la côte. De plus, ce phénomène tend à s’intensifier avec les changements climatiques.

Préserver les habitats littoraux du Nitassinan

Initié en 2018, le projet s’étale sur trois ans et a comme objectif principal de restaurer des sites dégradés par l’érosion côtière et jugés comme prioritaires par les membres de la communauté. Il a été rendu possible grâce à la contribution financière du programme Interactions communautaires (PIC) dans le cadre du Plan d’action Saint-Laurent 2011-2026.

Ce projet inclut également des activités de mobilisation communautaire, des ateliers de sensibilisation, un guide des bonnes pratiques en milieu côtier (actuellement disponible en français et prochainement en innu), des panneaux de sensibilisation et une mise à jour des données sur l’évolution côtière du Nitassinan. Ces activités sont réalisées en collaboration avec le Conseil des Innus de Ekuanitshit, le Centre d’affaires Kanikaniteht, la Maison de la culture Innue, le Comité ZIP Côte-Nord du Golfe, la Maison des jeunes, l’école Teueikan, Innu Natukuna et le laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières de l’Université du Québec à Rimouski.

Avec le soutien des membres de la communauté, la première année du projet s’est focalisée sur l’identification et la caractérisation des sites à restaurer en priorité. Deux techniques dites douces ont été retenues pour la restauration :
– La végétalisation : cette technique consiste à planter des plantes stabilisatrices indigènes le long de la rive pour retenir le sable grâce aux racines des plantes;
– Les capteurs de sable : grâce à la pose de clôtures à neige disposées en zigzag, cette technique permet de reconstituer les dunes endommagées en provoquant l’accumulation de sable à leur base.

L’été 2019 a été consacré à la restauration des sites sélectionnés dont un devant la Maison de la culture Innue et un autre à l’ouest de la communauté. Pour cela, des capteurs de sable d’une longueur de 80 mètres ont été installés et une superficie de 4 100 mètres carrés a été végétalisée par la plantation de 50 000 plants d’élyme des sables et d’ammophiles à ligule courte. Des plantes servant aux pratiques traditionnelles, comme le framboisier et le genévrier, furent également semées en collaboration avec Innu Natukuna.

Un suivi des sites restaurés commencera cet automne et s’étalera sur un an afin de maximiser les chances de survie des habitats. Les activités de mobilisation et de sensibilisation auprès des membres de la communauté (des enfants aux ainés) se poursuivront également jusqu’à la fin du projet.

Merci aux membres de la communauté qui ont soutenu, d’une manière ou d’une autre, les travaux de restauration ainsi qu’au Comité ZIP Côte-Nord du Golfe pour leur appui technique!

Quelques mesures pour protéger les habitats côtiers

Comme le dit si bien le dicton : mieux vaut prévenir que guérir! Ainsi, prendre soin de la côte est le meilleur moyen de lutter contre l’érosion côtière.

Voici donc quelques gestes écoresponsables qui peuvent être adoptés par chacun d’entre nous :
– Marcher ou rouler dans les sentiers d’accès;
– Sur la plage, marcher ou rouler le plus près possible de l’eau;
– Respecter les plantes en évitant leur piétinement;
– Toujours ramener vos déchets aux endroits prévus.

Il est de notre devoir d’agir dès maintenant pour préserver et pérenniser le territoire. À vous de jouer!

Article Source: Institut de développement durable des Premières Nations du Québec et du Labrador
First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute