COMMUNITY BASED MONITORING PROGRAM
The MCFN- Government and Industry Relations (GIR)'s Community Based Monitoring (CBM) program combines Traditional Knowledge and Western Science to answer to community concerns about changing environmental conditions in our homelands. Guided by our Elders and Chief and Council, the CBM program currently samples year round and provides information to decision makers and members at large about the health of wildfoods, the quality and quantity of water and the safety of winter travel conditions. Our organization aims to inform, educate and facilitate adaptation to changing environmental conditions in the Peace Athabasca Delta.
Initiated by the MCFN - (GIR) back in 2008, the CBM program provide answers about the state of the environment, the health of wild foods and continues to provide information about safe navigation to community members by tracking and marking river channels and hazards, and measuring changing winter ice and snow conditions. The CBM also provides educational opportunities for youth and Elders to come together, and assists the MCFN-GIR in negotiations and Environmental Assessments for proposed resource development projects.
The CBM employs 'Environmental Guardians' who are MCFN members, well-trained and professional. The Guardians also respond to emergencies, (such as the October 2013 Obed spill), and undertake primary research on water quality alone and in partnership with government and Universities.
The Mikisew Cree First Nation CBM program has an established office on the Doghead reserve in Fort Chipewyan and maintains one full time staff member and two part time staff, and include Elders and Traditional Knowledge fully in their routine sampling and research.
The CBM Program can also be described as an innovative data collection and educational program, established by Mikisew Chief and Council out of the recognition that Mikisew’s survival as a nation depends on the health of the natural environment in the traditional territories.
The CBM Program differs from other environmental initiatives in the oil sands region in that it:
- is driven by the Mikisew community and Mikisew staffed with linkages to the broader Fort Chipewyan community;
- develops and tracks Indigenous Knowledge indicators pertaining to Mikisew rights, culture, community well-being and wild foods in the oil sands region;
- helps community members safely navigate Mikisew territory by tracking and marking river channels and hazards and measuring changing winter ice and snow conditions;
- creates educational opportunities for youth and Elders to come together;
- provides critical information to environmental assessment and permitting processes;
- responds to environmental emergencies like the Obed tailings spill; and,
- supports researchers from Environment Canada, Parks Canada and universities across Canada with research.
CBM PROGRAM VISION AND MISSION
Healthy traditional lands that support MCFN members for the next 7 generations.
To protect MCFN Treaty and Aboriginal rights though active monitoring of the environment, using Traditional Knowledge and Science in a respectful balance.
CBM PROGRAM AREAS
1. CORE MONITORING, RESEARCH AND COLLABORATIONS
2. PATROLS, WILDLIFE OF CONCERN and INCIDENT RESPONSE
3. COMMUNICATIONS AND REPORTING
4. TRAINING, EDUCATION and PARTNERSHIPS
CORE MONITORING ACTTIVITIES, RESEARCH AND COLLABORATIONS
• Core CBM Monitoring work
• Water depth
• Water quality
- Monthly water chemistry readings
- Quarterly laboratory analysis
- IK indicators of Climate Change
• Winter ice conditions
• Maintain monitoring protocols and equipment
• Fee for service work – GoA, PADEMP, UNIVERSITIES
• Coordinate relationship with Government of Alberta, ECCC, Universities (U of Saskatchewan, U of Manitoba, U of Alberta, U of Waterloo, U of Ottawa);
• ACFN/FMFN/Métis/ GNWT relationship
• National CBM/ Guardian/ Ranger relationship coordination;
• Set or revise research priorities and protocols;
• Develop a quarterly intake and review of research proposals to ensure control over the direction of research;
TRAINING, EDUCATION and PARTNERSHIPS
• School presentations and mentoring;
• Youth/Elder camps;
• PADEMP steering committee, muskrat survey and forum;
• Environmental monitoring training;
• Safety training; and,
• Assist training or documentary video production.
PATROLS, WILDLIFE OF CONCERN and INCIDENT RESPONSE
• Negotiations for Parks Co-management/ UNESCO petition
• Channel marking
• Emergency Preparedness
• Intake of animals of concern (diseased, deformed, unusual)
COMMUNICATIONS AND REPORTING
• Social media;
• Facebook page
• Quarterly reports;
• GIR updates
• C&C updates
• Membership updates
• Elders updates
• Legal team coordination
• Calendar/ year end report;
• Open houses/ presentations;
• Understand government acts & policies such as NPRI/ MEND/MMER/ CEAA etc.
• Review of pertinent scientific literature and critiques; and
• Attendance at pertinent scientific conferences;
• Project management
CBM Areas of Expertise
Federal Environmental Matters:
The CBM Program can gather important information about key areas of federal jurisdiction, such as navigability, fish habitat, migratory birds, species-at-risk, federal parks and Treaty rights in a region where each of those areas is under significant threat from industrial activities.
The CBM Program has linkages with the community health issues facing Fort Chipewyan by gathering baseline information about traditional resources and creating educational opportunities about environmental issues. While Mikisew directs the CBM Program, this is information that is shared with the entire Fort Chipewyan community.
Environmental Assessments and Policy Development:
The CBM Program can serve as a tool for integrating indigenous rights and traditional knowledge into federal environmental assessments, decision-making frameworks and consultation processes in a manner that recognizes a nation-to-nation relationship.
The CBM Program has built links into the local school curriculum to help youth learn about the state of the environment around the community and to inform youth of education and career opportunities in the environmental sciences. There is room to grow and formalize the educational aspect of the CBM Program in a manner that also provides linkages between science curriculum and cultural programming.
Mikisew has worked hard to coordinate its research protocols and data storage so that the information being gathered can be utilized together with information from other research. This allows CBM to be integrated into and complement existing provincial and federal research initiatives and there are opportunities for further coordination and collaboration.
The CBM Program could be a high-profile initiative that demonstrates Canada’s commitment to addressing climate change, resetting its relationship with indigenous peoples and protecting one of Canada’s most recognizable and threatened World Heritage sites.
While the CBM Program can coordinate with federal/provincial research initiatives and other aboriginal groups, an independent, Mikisew-driven CBM Program can serve to empower a community that has been marginalized from research and data gathering
To view pictures taken by Bruce Maclean on behalf of the CBM Program
that were used in the UNESCO Mission, click HERE.
National Indigenous Community Based Climate Monitoring Symposium
MCFN Councillor Calvin Waquan, Katie Wheatley – MCFN GIR Representative, Nipin Vermillion – MCFN Youth and Larry Marten – MCFN Elder attended the “National Indigenous Community Based Climate Monitoring Symposium” in Winnipeg, Nov. 7-9, 2017.
The conference had representatives from the Federal Government, staff from CIER (Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources) and Indigenous community representatives from coast to coast including Elders, technical staff and youth. Ove...r the course of 2.5 days, a wide array of workshops was held that focused on open dialogues on data collection, storage and dissemination. The floor was granted to Elders and traditional knowledge holders on multiple occasions, as they provided insights on their experiences of climate change. On day 2 of the Symposium, Councillor Waquan gave a great presentation on our Community Based Monitoring program (see pic #3).