Background - MN-S CBCM Initiative
In may of 2018, the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan proposed to design, develop and implement a province-wide environmental monitoring system to measure the impacts of climate change and other indicators. In partnership with Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNA), the MN-S Ministry of Environment then proceeded to collaborate to design and implement the MN-S Community-Based Climate Monitoring initiative. Making use of the traditional knowledge of our citizens, the Initiative has aimed to identify and monitor environmental indicators on Traditional Land Use Areas (TLUAs) for Saskatchewan Metis, and identify indicator trends.
In addition, existing datasets from instrumental and historical sources such as river discharge variability, air temperature, record of forest fires, ice-break up dates or snow thickness have been compiled and analysed. These datasets will be used to engage in an intergenerational dialogue about scientific and traditional knowledge indicators of climate change.
Within Saskatchewan there are some regions and locals that have previously collected data regarding traditional and or occupancy lands and territories, though this information will remain proprietary in each specific circumstance. Therefore, this project will seek to obtain traditional knowledge through direct engagement with Metis elders, farmers, hunters, etc.
This will be done through interviews and other methods with the aim to identify and monitor key environmental indicators on Traditional Land Use Areas. Regional division boundaries will be used where there is no Traditional data and/or occupational markers.
For the purposes of this initiative, the scope and parameters have been limited to the Regions that comprise the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan;
The data and information gathered will serve as evidence on climate change impacts on the TLUAs (or within each Regional Boundary), proving critical information to inform climate change adaptation actions.
The initiative will be structured in three distinct phases:
Métis culture has a unique blend of both First Nations and European influences and includes values of both environmental stewardship and entrepreneurship. Métis people are stewards of the land and carry traditional knowledge about the land and their environments that has been passed down for generations. This knowledge and its transfer are deeply connected to the land which give the Métis people a vested interest in its preservation, maintenance and monitoring.
Until recently, climate change science has been heavily based in western science practices and methods, without significant inclusion of traditional knowledge. The benefit of the MN-S Community-Based Climate Monitoring Initiative would be two-fold, as it would allow for us to supplement existing knowledge and evidence with traditional knowledge, as well as provide a venue for the intergenerational transfer of knowledge. This transfer of knowledge is fundamental to the persistence of Métis culture in Saskatchewan.
Project Description & Objectives
The MN-S Community-Based Climate Monitoring Initiative (MN-S CBCMI) will aim to identify and monitor environmental indicators on Traditional Land Use areas (TLUAs) for Saskatchewan Métis, and determine indicator trends. The data and information gathered will serve as evidence of climate change impacts on the TLUAs, providing value to climate change adaptation actions.
Where there is no previous Traditional Land Use Data, or mapping, collected, the initiative will then rely on the MN-S Regional Boundaries as identified through ‘The Regional Boundaries Act, 1997’ of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan.
This initiative will become an integral part of the MN-S contribution to Canada’s goal of reducing green house gas emissions toward 2030 and beyond. It will allow us to document climate change impacts, inform MN-S citizenship, inform government policy on climate change and provide evidence and data to support climate adaptation and mitigation actions.
Specifically, the MN-S does not have a “Climate Action Plan,” though the information and the activities exercised through this initiative will facilitate the development and adoption of such a policy in due time. For now, the Nation will draw inspiration and direction from the commitments and aspirations outlined in the ‘Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change’ and the Paris Agreement. Ongoing direction will be drawn from this proposal document, Métis administrators, our internal governance processes and the traditional/ecological knowledge of our people.
The purpose of this initiative is to monitor the effects of climate change throughout our communities. In Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation represents 160 thousand citizens, 12 Regions and 110 Locals.
Key Climate Indicators
This initiative will become an integral part of the MN-S contribution to the commitments outlined in the ‘Pan-Canadian Frame Work on Clean Growth and Climate Change,’ which include:
“The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change… is our collective plan to grow our economy while reducing emissions and building resilience to adapt to a changing climate. It will help us transition to a stronger, diverse and competitive economy; foster job creation, with new technologies and exports; and provide a healthy environment for our children and grand children.”
As outlined in the First Ministers’ Meeting and Meeting with National Indigenous Leaders:
“In the Paris Agreement, Parties agreed that they should, when taking action to address climate change, recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. As we implement this Framework, we will move forward respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, with robust, meaningful engagement drawing on their Traditional Knowledge. We will take into account the unique circumstances and opportunities of Indigenous Peoples and northern, remote, and vulnerable communities. We acknowledge and thank Indigenous Peoples across Canada for their climate leadership long before the Paris Agreement and for being active drivers of positive change.”
These climate indicators were identified by Indigenous Community representatives through the National Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Symposium hosted in Winnipeg, Manitoba from November 7th to 9th, 2017. However, climate change is having impacts that are unique to individual regions, communities and groups.
The MN-S CBCM Initiative will set out to monitor and record common scientific indicators but will also utilize Traditional Knowledge to identify specific indicators in correlation with the Métis experience, traditional usage of the land and environmental world view.
As this Initiative is structured in such a way that key indicators will be identified during the Engagement and Planning Stages, the full suite of key climate indicators has not yet been determined. Previous work completed on Traditional Land Use (TLU) studies throughout the province, by MN-S Regions or locals, may have identified some potential indicators.
Metis Youth Engagement and Metis Knowledge Component
Our citizens are our knowledge holders, and our most important resource for the development of the project. The MNS has established both Youth, and Citizen Engagement departments. The project will include the participation of appropriate MNS staff and Regional Leadership to ensure outreach and inclusion of MNS youth and Elders in each stage of the initiative. Youth inclusion will also be central for the Monitoring stage of this initiative, including in Environmental Monitoring positions. This initiative will allow to provide training and certification to a number of citizens under the age of 30, increasing their job readiness.