2017 Community-Based Projects

Past Knowledge for Future Protection

Annie Boucher, Executive Director; Mike Tollis, Dane Giroux, Akaitcho Territorial Government, General Delivery, Deninu Kue, NWT X0E 0M0  executive.director@akaitcho.ca


The Akaitcho First Nations will host an on the land workshop to build off the experiences and knowledge shared in the previous two workshops held on water issues. Building on the previous Tracking Change – supported workshop last year, we are seeking to better define the threats facing our aquatic ecosystem today. We will focus on better defining these threats as to being natural or unnatural, and working towards an understanding of if they are manageable or mitigatable, or if they are something that we would have to adapt to. Through sharing of traditional knowledge, we will work towards the end goal of how we are going to deal with the problems we face now and into the future. On the subject of the future, the last TC workshop in Akaitcho identified a serious component that must be included if we are to give the future the respect it requires, and that is the involvement of youth at all levels. In the planning of this workshop, we put a major focus on the youth participation in the workshop, not simply having youth present (youth will make up approximately 50% of workshop participants), but engaging them through boat experiences with Elders, sitting down with Chiefs, and having their input in the conversations be heard and discussed. The youth will not only be the ones to inherit this water issues, but having them see respect shown at all levels of interaction is key to the success of the First Nations.

Tracking Change on the Liard River

Corrine Porter, Executive Director, Dena Kayeh Institute, P.O. Box 9 Lower Post BC  V0C 1W0 denakayah@gmail.com


This project will assist in documenting ecological change in the Mackenzie River watershed, specifically the Liard River and its tributaries, as perceived by the Kasha Dena. Fifty to one hundred interviews will be conducted, traditional knowledge will be recorded, and water monitoring sites will be identified to record the changes in water depth. This project will support objectives in the Kasha Water Strategy, adopted in 2015, by addressing data gaps within the Kasha Traditional Territory. It will also assist in addressing climate change monitoring in the region.

Inuvialuit Knowledge and Use of Fisheries in the Mackenzie River Delta

Kristin Hynes, Fisheries Resource Specialist, Inuvialuit Fisheries Joint Management Committee, PO Box 2120 Inuvik, NWT X0E 0T0  fjmc-rb@jointsec.nt.ca


The Mackenzie River Delta area is an important source of subsistence fisheries for the Inuvialuit, that contributes to the overall sustainability of fishing livelihoods for the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. This program aims to build on the results of interviews completed in 2016, through more focused discussions on changes to fish, fish habitat and fishing livelihoods that have been observed by Inuvialuit from Aklavik and Inuvik. Discussions will be on the land during fish camps that each community HTC (Aklavik, Inuvik) will coordinate. FJMC staff will discuss the potential for collaborative opportunities on food security with staff at the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC). The fish camps for each community will also provide learning opportunity for youth (local knowledge), the opportunity to discuss the broad outcomes and feedback that were obtained through the TK interviews, as well as provide a forum for discussion on future directions and Inuvialuit priorities for research and monitoring (traditional and local knowledge, scientific) in the Mackenzie River Delta. All of the TK collected will be documented and maintained at Inuvialuit organizations, and outcomes will contribute to the local co-management of fisheries in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and contribute to the broader Tracking Change project which is focused on gathering knowledge across the Mackenzie River Basin.

Gwich’in Fish Project and Knowledge Exchange Camp

Amy Amos, Executive Director, Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, P.O. Box 2240, 2nd Fl., Alex Moses Greenland Building, 105 Veteran’s Way, Inuvik, NWT X0E 0T0   aamos@grrb.nt.ca


Ongoing environmental and socioeconomic changes in northern Canada are raising concerns about the health of local fish populations, water quality, and the future of fishing livelihoods in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). In 2016, the Gwich’in First Nation participated in a pilot year with the Tracking Change project, focused on changes to Gwich’in fishing livelihoods. In 2017-18, research for the Tracking Change project in the GSA will be organized around three sub-projects. 1. Monitoring of dissolved oxygen and water temperature affecting vit (lake trout) populations in Airport Lake. This work will be led by Sarah Lord (Fisheries Biologist, GRRB).  2. Research using semi-structured interviews to explore the impact of access to fish on health and well-being. This work will be led by Tracey Proverbs (MSc student, UVic). 3. A knowledge exchange camp that will bring together: 1) Gwich’in fishers and youth, 2) staff from the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, and 3) researchers from the University of Victoria (UVic), and Simon Fraser University (SFU). This camp will highlight monitoring initiatives and the methods focused on fish, water quality, and community health and well-being. This camp will be overseen by Tas-Tsi Catholique (Lands Analyst, GTC) and a camp coordinator hired to organize logistics. This initiative will improve our understandings of changes affecting Gwich’in fishing livelihoods, as well as lay a foundation for vit and water quality monitoring in the Gwich’in Settlement Area. Similar to the previous year, this information will guide the development of research and monitoring in year three of this project.

Upper Katl’odeh Traditional Knowledge Assessment

Peter Redvers, Executive Director of Lands, Resources, and Negotiations, Katl’odeeche First Nation, Box 3060, Hay River Dene Reserve NWT, X0E 1G4 landdirector@katlodeeche.com


This project involves facilitating a canoe trip along Kátł’odeh from northern Alberta (Dene Th’a primary territory) into the southern NWT (Kátł’odeeche Fırst Natıon primary territory) in order to document, using traditional perspectives, the differing changes and impacts in cultural landscapes from a highly impacted area (northern Alberta) to a relatively pristine area (southern NWT). The main type of information being gathered will include traditional place names; cultural sites and stories attached to the river; changes to the landscape and to cultural activities arising from logging, oil/gas development and other factors (such as forest fires and climate change); wildlife harvesting sites and areas; fish populations, migrations, and spawning; changes to water flow and quality; and visions for future land use and management. The information compiled will be prepared into a report (preferably jointly copyrighted by the Dene Th’a and the Kátłodeeche Fırst Natıon) and this report will be made available to the Tracking Change master project under a user licence agreement.

Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) Tracking Change in the Great Slave Basin Project

Ray Griffith, Manager, Wildife Lands and Environment, Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, P.O. Box 28, Lutsel K’e, NWT X0E 1A0 lkdfnlands@gmail.com 


The LKDFN along with Akaitcho partner Deninu Kue First Nation (DKFN) will embark on two canoe trips in the Akaitcho territory, that will provide traditional knowledge holders and youth opportunities to be out on the water, practice and transfer traditional skills and knowledge, implement Denesoline fish and water indicators, collect TK and document mentods, and develop thresholds to trigger stewardship responses. The purpose is to record and interpret Denesoline Traditional Knowledge (TK) and stories transmitted during a multi-day travel experience on the Snowdrift River. This research aims to contribute to northern, Indigenous, community-based research by illuminating the knowledges and the narratives of land users, elders and youth from the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN). In particular, the study aims to work with LKDFN representatives to document and understand how traditional land-based knowledges and narratives can contribute to Dene self-determination, land and water governance, and cultural livelihoods. This study engages the principles of community-based and Indigenous research methodologies so as to ensure priorities and processes are determined by community representatives, and that research outcomes have direct relevance to the LKDFN. The five guiding research questions have been developed in partnership with both the Wildlife, Lands and Environment Department (WLED) and the Ni Hat’ni water governance program. These research questions include: 1. What TK and narratives are transmitted during the Snowdrift river travel and land camp experience? 2. What environmental, social, and cultural changes are observed and communicated by LKDFN representatives on the Snowdrift? 3. How are stories used to transmit knowledge among LKDFN representatives during the Snowdrift river travel experience? 4. How does the Snowdrift travel experience contribute to LKDFN governance of ancestral waters and lands?5. What impact does the Snowdrift land camp/travel experience have on LKDFN youth connections land, traditional knowledge, and culture? These canoe trips will be an enriching experience for all participants, and in particular the youth, and will hopefully instill pride in a strong and unique culture. There will be 10-14 members participating in the trips, that will happen in the Slave Basin, on the east arm of Great Slave Lake.

Mikisew Cree First Nation Community-Based Monitoring Plan

Melody Lepine, Director, Mikisew Cree First Nation – Government and Industry Relations, Suite A 8219 Fraser Avenue, Fort McMurray, AB T9H 0A2 melody.lepine@mcfngir.ca


For eight years, the MCFN have been operating a Community-Based Monitoring Program, based out of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta to understand the negative changes Elders have observed in the traditional territories. Of greatest importance to the communities was the need to better understand the negative changes to water quality and quantity in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Findings have identified serious concerns with water quality, which constrains access to traditional areas, as a result of hydro development, oil sands extractions, and climate change. Project objectives are to apply a Navigational Hazard App with the Community Based Monitoring (CBM) staff and community members together to continuously update a database of navigational hazards. Staff and members will use the App to log all potential hazards by recording a georeferenced description, qualitative navigation conditions and photograph. Field data will populate an interactive database and ultimately a map with real time hazard updates. This data will assist community members in adapting to the rapid navigational changes occurring in the Peace Athabasca Delta, by being better informed and thus prepared for safe navigation. It is anticipated that this App will be used in conjunction with other tools (such as expanded CBM monitoring, revised policies, water diversion structures, dredging, modified Peace River flows) to effectively manage water levels in the PAD.

Denesuline Elders and Youth Gatherings on the Health of the Aquatic Environment

Joe Tsannie, Vice Chief, Prince Albert Grand Council, Box 2770, 2300-9th St. Ave East, Prince Albert, SK S6V 6Z1 jtsanniejr@pagc.net  


Denesuline Elders and Youth from Black Lake and Fond du Lac in northern Saskatchewan are engaged in a sub-research project with other community partners for the purposes of sharing local and traditional knowledge about the social-ecological changes in the Mackenzie River and Athabasca regions, as well as to determine roles in watershed governance. The first venue for the information conversational knowledge-sharing will occur in a land-based spiritual gathering being hosted by the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nations at Great Slave Lake from August 6 to 11th 2017. The second venue will be an Elder gathering at Black Lake (Athabasca Region) September 29th t0 October 2nd 2017. The purpose of the research project is to collaboratively share and document historical and contemporary observations and perceptions of conditions and changes in the health of the aquatic environment in northern lake and river systems as per the research guidelines provided by the Tracking Change project. The participation of youth in the project is to ensure traditional Dene knowledge is passed on from the Denesuline Elders and community members.

Tulit’a Got’ine Traditional Knowledge: The Impact of Climate Change on Fishing Livelihoods

Deborah Simmons, Executive Director, Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, P.O. Box 134 Tulit’a NT X0E 0K0 director@srrb.nt.ca


Fishing is an important livelihood activity for many northern indigenous communities, especially within the Sahtu. However, ongoing climate-related changes are raising newfound concerns about the future of fishing and fishing livelihoods. In 2016, Deline Got’ine community members participated in a pilot year with the Tracking Change Project, which focused on possible environmental changes in and around the Great Bear Lake region. In 2017, research for the Tracking Change project will be organized around documenting change on the Mackenzie River from the perspective of Tulit’a Got’ine. Through hands-on activities, participants will share and interpret traditional knowledge about the changing ecology of water and fishing livelihoods on the Mackenzie River. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted by a graduate student in order to explore the climate change-related impacts on water, fish, fish health, as well as well-being.

Canoe Trip 2017: Protecting our Environment for Future Generations – Exercising our Treaty Rights.

Kevin Ahkimnachie, Director of Livelihood, Treat 8 First Nations of Alberta, 18178-102 Avenue, Edmonton, AB  T5S 1S7  kahkimnachie@treaty8.org


The Canoe trip will occur Aug 7-11, 2017 and the North Peace Region First Nations will participate. The goal of the trip is to have 25 canoes on the Peace River to represent the 24 Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta and one canoe to represent the Treaty 8 First Nations Organization. The recommendation is to send one Elder and one Youth from each to participate in the canoe trip. The trip will begin with a feast at Beaver First Nation, and the next day travel will launch from Fort Vermillion Bridge to Little Red River First Nation (Garden River) on the Peace River. Elders will share wisdom with youth on preserving the lands for use by future generations, to ensure that Treaty 8 citizens will continue to exercise their inherent and Treaty rights in the territory. The project aims at capacity-building – finding knowledge keepers that have firsthand knowledge about oral histories, land stewardship, linguistic and world views, customs and traditions, and knowledge of the lakes and rivers of the territory. The community impacts of change will be documented, as well as TEK and possibly knowledge transfer. The data, interviews, and knowledge gathered will be held by Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta. The information can be shared with partners and sharing of the information will be guided by the application of First Nations OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession) standards and principles.

Guiding Respectful Behaviour While Experiencing the Aquatic Environment of Whati: Implications of Change for Governance

Jody Pellissey, Executive Director, Wek’eezhii Renewable Resources Board, 102A, 4504-49th Avenue, Yellowknife, NT X1A 1A7  jpellissey@wrrb.ca


 Among the Tłı̨chǫ, the people of Whatı̀ have always been known as having productive fisheries and knowing tǫdzı (boreal caribou). When discussing fisheries and tǫdzı, the impact of climate change on water levels has become a constant topic of conversation among elders and harvesters. Community members want youth to understand the relationship between todzi, water, and fish; and how to respect each to ensure that they thrive. For the elders and harvesters, it is important for the success of the fisheries to ensure that people follow the ‘laws’ associated with traveling on the lake and respecting the fish when preparing them for immediate and long-term use. Four elders, one principal investigator, and at least one Tłı̨chǫ university student, and several high school students, who are currently participants in the Tłı̨chǫ Government’s Tłı̨chǫ Įmbè program, will spend time with elders and community researchers participating in the ‘Tǫdzı and Wildfire’ research camp, during which time they will hear stories of fish, todzi and water. They will document this information, and hear – from elders — how to monitor and manage human behaviour in conjunction with the changing water environment.  Our main questions is: What do elders, fishers and tǫdzı hunters have to say about changing aquatic environments and the species that depend on it?

Ya Thi Nene Lands and Resources Youth Science/Culture Camp and Canoe Quest

Diane Mcdonald, Coordinator, Ya Thi Nene Lands and Resource Office, Box 310, Fond du Lac, SK S0J 0W0 diane.mcdonald@yathinene.com


The Ya’thi Nene Lands and Resource Office (YNLRO) works to promote and enhance the environmental, social, cultural, economic health and well-being of the Athabasca Basin Communities. This year, the YNLRO will host the First Annual Science/Cultural Camp July 24-31st near the Athabasca Sand Dunes, located on the south side of Lake Athabasca, 20 km west of Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation. The goal is to raise awareness of the type of environmental monitoring that takes place in the Athabasca by the CanNorth Company. Teaching high school students different types of activities initiated on an annual basis by CanNorth, included but not limited to fish dissection, plant identification, field assessment, water and sediment sampling, water temperature and effects. Cultural activities will include caribou and moose hide making, beading, dry meat and dry fish making, hand games, crafts, fishing and elders circle talk. Added features will be provided by Diversity Talent and Bearpaw Communications will be filming to produce a Community Education Video. The Canoe Quest will be a 5-day journey in August of traveling along the trails of our ancestors to experience living off the land and the importance of traditional knowledge related to the waterways as a source of sustenance and for travel, and to observe the impacts of climate change and development on these lands and areas through stories and teachings shared by elders.