As the Director of Environment, I would like to present this initial report which highlights the progress of the Ministry to date. Here at the Ministry of Environment we are pleased to publish this new website which will house important information and help keep our Métis people informed on the following:
-How the regulatory process works
-Environmental Monitoring efforts
-Reports and Updates on key regulatory and legislative changes
-Engagement initiatives and events hosted by the Ministry
-Special access to scientific data and traditional knowledge (approval required)
The website will represent a critical function in the implementation of our Communications Plan. The Plan has been designed to facilitate a province wide discussion and narrative regarding the following environmental issues: 1.) climate change, 2.) carbon pricing, 3.) wildlife management, 4.) water security and, 5.) Environmental Monitoring.
The Métis people of Saskatchewan expect our government to make progress on those issues aligned with our Indigenous world view and priorities – this includes protecting the environment. As a Ministry, we are doing this by designing and developing our own distinct ‘MN-S Environmental Monitoring System’ which will enable our people to partake in the approval and regulatory processes of existing and new major projects that might impact our communities and ways of life.
Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program:
The MN-S Community-Based Climate Monitoring Initiative will provide funding over five years in funding starting from April 2017, to support Indigenous communities in the development and implementation of community-based climate monitoring projects. The Program is housed under Crown Indigenous Relations Canada – Climate Change. In 2018-2019, the government allocated funding for the 5 programs linked to climate change, they include:
Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Climate Change Policy Program;
Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity Program;
Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program; Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program
First Nations Adapt Program.
After the first year of the program work related to the engagement from the community and research into key climate indicators has been done. Saskatchewan also has been the only province to work within the Métis Youth component of the program.
MN-S Indigenous Guardian’s Initiative and Prairie Resilience:
The MN-S had held 19 community engagement meetings, to garner the understanding of over 500 Métis people’s and stakeholders. The discussions were centered around climate change, how this crisis is going to affect our people’s and strategizing steps in moving forward. This information led to three specific issues emerging as critical to MN-S and related to the Government of Saskatchewan’s Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy as follows:
MN-S/Provincial Communication, Engagement and Partnerships
Climate and Weather
Water Quality, Quantity and Distribution
From this and the proposal for the Indigenous Community Based Climate Monitoring Program, the Guardian’s initiative was born. The guardian’s initiative’s targets and objectives are:
Develop procedures and policies regarding communication, engagement, and defining duty to consult for bilateral relationships with proponents, regulators and the Crown
Establish community monitoring systems by training local monitors to address areas of particular concern and/or that have data gaps
Assess and update community emergency response programs, and where needed train MN-S citizens in emergency response.
MN-S Carbon Pricing Program (MN-S Navigators Program):
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) submitted the following proposal narrative regarding the carbon pricing top up funding to develop a template for the creation and effective operation of a Ministry of Environment for the Metis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S). The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan proposes to design and implement the MN-S Carbon Pricing initiative (“the initiative”).
Making use of the traditional knowledge of our citizens, the Initiative will aim to identify and monitor environmental indicators on Traditional Land Use Areas (TLUAs) for Saskatchewan Métis, 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 updates or snow thickness will be 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.
Bill C-69 Engagement Session 2019:
The MN-S engaged with the Métis citizenship in the province in sessions that have provided information about Bill C-69 and have collected the thoughts and ideas the citizens have about the new regulatory legislation. The engagement session took place in Regina, Saskatchewan as a one day event bringing Métis officials from areas located aroud the province to the Provincial capital. The MN-S will have two officials from each of the MN-S regional zones to discuss this legislation.
Bill C-69, also known as “An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts” is an act that amends laws that diminished the environmental assessment process in 2012 under the Impact Assessment Act. The new legislation is a balanced approach to which takes in deeper consideration of environmental assessments in natural resource mining and the infrastructure projects that transport the products to economic markets.
A facilitation team will guide participants through the engagement session, collect the responses, transcribe and collate the responses to reflect the similarities and differences with the engagement data from the other two locations. This team will complete a final report on the engagement sessions and submit it to the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan.
Migratory Bird Harvest Project:
The project "Migratory Bird Harvest by Métis in Saskatchewan" was approved until March 31, 2020. This programming arrangement has been based on the condition of the successful negotiation of the project details and the signature of a contribution agreement by the MN-S and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
MN-S Food Safety and Security Initiative:
Two communities (Pinehouse & Ile-Le-Crosse) in the northwest part of the province is the site of engagement meetings attended by commercial fisherman and citizens of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan and other stakeholders, to talk about food safety and the fishing industry. This information leads to the examination of specific issues related to the commercial fishing industry as follows:
MN-S/Provincial Communication, Engagement and Partnerships in the Fishing Industry
Climate and Weather its effects on Food Safety in the fishing industry
Water Quality, Quantity and Distribution on the fishing industry
The viewpoint of Métis citizens in each theme will be captured and discussed along with suggested actions to address issues. Actions and opportunities will be defined in the subsequent to the engagement sessions in each community with fisherman and the community.
MN-S suggests that it is capable and interested in the co-development currently available datasets as well as establish monitoring activities in areas that lack sufficient data coverage. Throughout this process, the community engagement sessions undertaken will be positive and productive. We feel that more engagement across a broad spectrum is warranted. Regularly scheduled engagement with the appropriate subject matter experts will allow and create a positive dialogue.