Posts

The Alberta provincial government has released draft flood maps meant to improve public safety, support emergency management, and help build safer and more resilient communities over the long term. Engagement opportunities are open for Albertans to provide feedback on new flood maps. Feedback will help ensure this work is technically sound. Share your thoughts on the draft flood maps by going to https://www.alberta.ca/flood-study-engagements.aspx by January 15, 2021.

The engagement for these studies is part of an initiative that developed 18 new provincial flood studies, covering over 1,500 kilometres of river through more than 60 municipalities and First Nations, including the five following First Nations:

New flood maps are available for many communities across Alberta. You do not need to be an engineer or flood expert to view or provide feedback. The Alberta provincial government will carefully consider all feedback received and will revise the draft reports and flood maps to address technical errors, as appropriate.

 

Information from: Government of Alberta, Ministry of Environment and Parks.

 

(Photo Credit: Joshua Woroniecki , Unsplash)

 

Climate change effects are significantly reducing the catch of salmon worldwide. Indigenous communities are taking various actions to protect salmon as a crucial food source, and not simply as a commercial and economic resource.

Salmon need cold water streams; however, with warming waters, a harmful effect of climate change, salmon become more prone to disease. Shifts in weather patterns can also wash away salmon spawning beds, while lower pH levels in the oceans (i.e., ocean acidification) reduces overall fish stocks.

Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC) and Washington State are using climate change adaptation practices in order to protect salmon runs along the Skagit River, by creating spawning beds, and by planting shady trees in order to cool down the river. In addition, Indigenous communities in BC are calling for more emergency conservation measures to protect salmon along the Fraser River. Most recently, the First Nation Leadership Council declared the collapse of sockeye salmon stock, calling for the emergency closure of all sockeye salmon fisheries along the Fraser River and an end to all open-net salmon farming. These extreme actions are being taken by BC First Nations, alongside collaborative approaches to facilitate fisheries management and to ensure the conservation of Pacific wild salmon and their habitat.

Ultimately, Indigenous communities are taking adaptive, emergency, and legislative actions to protect salmon habitats from the harmful effects of climate change and to sustain a valuable food source for their communities.

 

By Leela Viswanathan

Indigenous-led watershed planning is crucial for Indigenous communities to adapt to the fast pace of climate change. A watershed is a physical area that absorbs rain and snow into underground sources of water, such as, rivers, creeks, and streams, and catches the elements in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water that are all aboveground. Watershed planning involves the decisions that people make to determine what happens to water in an entire physical region, as well as what happens to it at the local community level.

Target 15 of the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada states: “By 2020, Aboriginal traditional knowledge is respected, promoted and, where made available by Aboriginal peoples, regularly, meaningfully and effectively informing biodiversity conservation and management decision-making.” Although Indigenous inclusion in state-driven biodiversity planning, such as planning for watersheds, is important, it is not at the heart of Indigenous-led watershed planning.

Values behind Indigenous-led watershed planning, which can include interconnectedness, self-determination, education, and resilience, among others, are what make Indigenous-led watershed planning different from dominating non-Indigenous watershed planning practices. For example, water is a sacred life-source and holds cultural significance for Indigenous peoples. As noted in the First Nations Integrated Watershed Planning guidebook, created by the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), First Nation-led watershed planning asks different questions than non-Indigenous-led watershed planning – questions such as: “if water is alive and represents life – if we are all connected and embody an ethic of reciprocity in our decisions and daily lives – what would be the different outcomes of a watershed planning process?”

Stewardship is integral to Indigenous-led watershed planning. The National Indigenous Guardians Network (NIGN) is an Indigenous-led and Canadian federally-funded pilot project – a network of Indigenous stewards of the land, water, and ice. Inspired by a similar network of Indigenous environmental stewardship in Australia, the NGIN has engaged in watershed planning projects across Canada. Furthermore, Indigenous communities, on their own, or in partnership with universities, are creating climate adaptation plans that include watershed planning. For example, the Karuk Tribe has created its own Climate Adaptation Plan which includes practices to protect rivers and riverbeds (i.e., riparian practices). Furthermore, the Tribal Climate Tool, a partnership among Indigenous communities, including the Swinomish, and the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, provides data to help Indigenous communities make their own climate adaptation decisions, by including measurements, such as rain fall and temperature.

Indigenous-led watershed planning can strike a balance among diverse cultural values, as well as needs of the natural environment, and of Indigenous communities. Some communities may consider including economic development priorities in their watershed plans too, such as energy conservation and generation projects, while protecting Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Climate adaptation plans that are rooted in both present needs and values and future aspirations, enable Indigenous communities to adapt to environmental changes as they happen, and hold the potential to enable Indigenous people to adapt to climate change better than ever before.

 

By Leela Viswanathan

Across the Interlake region in Manitoba, the impacts of a changing climate are being experienced more frequently than in previous years. Compounding this conundrum is the severity of the impacts. Take for example, as a result of severe flooding, several First Nations Communities, who are usually the most affected, were evacuated in 2011 and 2014. Climate colonialism – where the least resilient are shouldered with the responsibility of bearing climate impacts – is another challenge many First Nations communities face. To illustrate, constant water regulation has impacted the Fairford River in Pinaymootang First Nation, a once pristine riparian zone. The flora and fauna have been deeply impacted. “This was once a spawning area for Northern pike. Now, fish cannot be caught by shoreline and rod fishing anymore (rare a fish is caught)”, a community member said.  This change did take not place suddenly, it happened over a period of time – like a slow-moving emergency.

To address some of these issues, Interlake Reserve Tribal Council – a consortium of six First Nations Communities working together to advance the collective wellbeing of its members – utilised a community participatory approach that integrates indigenous knowledge in the process of formulating long term adaptation plans that are unique to each community. First, adaptive capacity measurements and increasing adaptive capacity: Sessions were designed to allow community members to discuss issues and potential solutions and for the project to gather more information. And at treaty days, throughout the summer of 2018, the project had a booth set up (In each community) for further discussions and information sharing. Pre-liminary results indicate that close to 100% of community are aware of climate change and its effect, but are convinced that communities do not have adequate resources in place to tackle these impacts. Second, Community Risk Mapping: Using a participatory approach that integrates traditional knowledge in adaptation planning, climate risks maps were produced. Community members, including leaders, resource users (hunters, fishermen.), and elders, were selected in the various mapping sessions organized. Oral stories and transect walk, in addition to qualitative assessments, were used to identify and assess climate hazards and its level of impact. These data were put on the physical map provided, and later converted into GIS layers.

Third, hazard inventory and risk analysis: Together with IRTC’s emergency management team, the project carried out a preliminary risk analysis of hazards in each community. Stakeholder engagement sessions and site visits to each of the six IRTC First Nations were conducted to acquire local knowledge and context regarding hazards and risks as they applied to individual communities. These engagement sessions included interviews and meetings with Elders and interested community members – all geared towards providing a suitable foundation for adaptation.

As can be seen, IRTC’s project has begun the process of building uniformity of perceptions/views among stakeholders, prioritizing each community’s issues, investing in capacity building, and exploring solutions.  And the one thing, though, that all communities agree on, is that continued action is required combat this slow-moving threat.

 

Author: Interlake Reserve Tribal Council

At the ICCAG 2019, Dr. Paul Chaput of Creative Consulting screened his latest documentary, “A Different Kind of Gathering: We are One. Hishuk’ish Tsawalk – Everything is One,” which was filmed at the Indigenous Climate Change Adaptation Gathering (ICCAG) last year in February 2018. The film captures the climate change adaptation stories of First Nations climate change leaders.

In the film, you will find footage of last year’s ICCAG, including presentations and exclusive one-on-one interviews.

Interested in doing a film screening in your community?*

The film can be streamed online (for free) in English and French and can be accessed at the links below:

English version (full film)https://vimeo.com/291419712 (Video length: 24:31)

French version (full film)https://vimeo.com/335689384 (Video length: 24:43)

 

*NOTE: Elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools and institutions are also welcome to screen the film.

(This film was made possible through the support of the First Nation Adapt program, CIRNAC, 2018).

Events

General Information on STREAM Webinar Series

The purpose of this four-part webinar series hosted by Living Lakes Canada is to introduce the STREAM (Sequencing The Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring) project to anyone interested in community-based water monitoring.

Guest presenters will include representatives from University of Guelph, WWF-Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and participating water monitoring groups and First Nations. Recordings of the webinars will be made available on our website.

Webinar – Indigenous-led STREAM Projects

Thursday, May 27 10am-11am PT/11am-12pm MT/1pm-2pm ET

  • This webinar will feature Indigenous-led, community-based water monitoring programs.
  • The Dane nan yḗ dāh (Kaska Land Guardian) program participated in the STREAM pilot project in 2018 and now work in collaboration with the Province to monitor CABIN sites. The project builds upon the existing Dene Nan Yedah environmental monitoring program to include water quality and benthic invertebrate monitoring, ensuring that there is sufficient baseline data to inform future development decisions. At the same time, this collaboration will further the efforts to create a network of Guardians programs (Tanya Ball).
  • The Blueberry River First Nations took CABIN/STREAM training in 2019 and are continuing to build out their monitoring programs to achieve their goal of reciprocal restoration, to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems while promoting cultural revitalization (Mae Whyte).
  • The Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) is a collaboration between the Province and First Nations in northern BC. The goals of ESI are to develop a new collaborative approach to generating high quality, accessible and trusted environmental information. The scope of ESI includes four key areas: 1) ecosystem assessment and monitoring; 2) ecosystem restoration and enhancement; 3) ecosystem research and knowledge exchange; 4) stewardship education and training. Five Nations of ESI, including Witset First Nation, Office of the Wet’suwet’en,, Gitxsan, Gitanyow and Lake Babine Nation have participated in the STREAM project to better understand trends in aquatic biodiversity related to climate change, and impacts of land and water use on aquatic ecosystems over time. This is especially important to these First Nations given their reliance on salmon as a key food source (Dallas Nikal).

To learn more, or to register, visit Webinar Registration page – https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rf0A914CRh6u4YaIfm9M_A.

If you have any questions about the STREAM Webinar Series or the STREAM program, please contact Living Lakes Canada STREAM Program Manager Raegan Mallinson at: raegan@livinglakescanada.ca

(Information Source: Living Lakes Canada website)

General STREAM Webinar Series Information

The purpose of this four-part webinar series hosted by Living Lakes Canada is to introduce the STREAM (Sequencing The Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring) project to anyone interested in community-based water monitoring.

Guest presenters will include representatives from University of Guelph, WWF-Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and participating water monitoring groups and First Nations. Recordings of the webinars will be made available on our website.

Webinar – STREAM Users – Featured Case Studies

Thursday, April 29 10am-11am PT/11am-12pm MT/1pm-2pm ET

  • This webinar will provide case study examples of participants in the STREAM project that are utilizing the CABIN methods in a local context on the west and east slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
  • The Elk River Alliance has been using CABIN since 2012 to inform restoration efforts and identify Elk River tributaries impacted by land-use activities, including mining, logging and residential development. In 2020 ERA trialled STREAM protocols to better understand habitat health. ERA is working to collaborate with industry groups to develop data-sharing agreements and centralize monitoring efforts to better understand and sustainably manage the Elk River watershed (Kaileigh McCallum).
  • The Oldman Watershed Council has been a STREAM participant since Year 1 of the project and will share their restoration monitoring efforts in their headwaters on the Eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies, where they have been restoring stream banks together with partners and volunteers (Sofie Forsstrom).
  • The Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) will share about how they’re using the STREAM project to fulfill the Ghost Watershed State of the Watershed Report recommendations while addressing concerns due to increased land use practices, specifically sedimentation and how the project is assisting GWAS with identifying priority sites for future restoration efforts (Cal Hill).
  • This webinar will also feature how the STREAM project is being applied in a wetland context (Darcie Quamme).

To learn more or to register, visit Webinar Registration page: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oQgsLpjGR1KX1o1b22dMog.

(Information Source: Living Lakes Canada website)