For us at Sustainability Network, SWAPP is a logical outgrowth that builds on 4 years of the Boreal Learning Network (BLN). As BLN helps environmental NGOs (ENGOs) and First Nations in communicating, planning, and negotiating with one another, SWAPP is being designed to provide a more directed space with a specific audience and targeted conservation outcomes, all happening both around and within BLN gatherings in early 2014.
SWAPP provides Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs), industry, and First Nations with an opportunity to create new partnerships around watershed planning strategies and education. SWAPP is helping coordinate the formation of five collaborations based in First Nations communities.
Drawing upon our services in collaborative networking, skill development, and relationship building, the BLN gatherings – three-day gatherings that provide opportunities to share progress by convening participants in a shared learning environment and drawing on expert knowledge. Online engagement by means of social media, blogs, and webinars connects project participants throughout the time between Learning Network sessions.
Here are the details on our collaborative leaders and their respective mini-project topics that will get underway this year:
Jaymie Leary from Norway House Cree Nation, will hold kitchen table-type talk sessions and public forums to gather the issues from a community perspective and then translate recommendations into action. Potential actions foreseen include youth education concerning prioritized issues and locations surrounding the community, which lead to on the ground activities such as stream bank restoration, tree planting, or fresh water monitoring. Our initial partner planning group met in Winnipeg in January, offering suggestions for Jaymie to initiate a watershed-based curriculum for school aged youth. As Norway House residents, including youth, gain recognition of the importance for intact forests surrounding adjacent water bodies, they can better inform and unify their stake in land-use planning.
Alfred Gamble is a leader in the Beardy’s and Okemasis Willow Cree Nation. The Island Forest is an important watershed area in a unique boreal ecotype, where the impacts of climate change are likely to occur earlier than in the contiguous boreal forest to the north, thus serving as an early warning system. Currently an Island Forest engagement process is comprised of 7 First Nations bands, however, overarching provincial regulation and permitting by Saskatchewan Water Security Agency is without adequate local Indigenous representation. Alfred is in a unique position as a multi-faceted community leader, being able to draw upon his networks, combine them with SWAPP contacts, and injecting generational learning through the involvement of his Youth Resource Rangers in prospective Island Forest watershed planning.
Diane McDonald works with the Athabasca Land Use Office under the Athabasca Negotiating Team. Concerns include mines, hydro (Elizabeth Falls), and forestry, relating to fish, fish spawning areas, water quality and quantity, particularly to Lake Athabasca. Diane advises that a participatory approach would be beneficial, as opposed to an advisory one. A participatory discussion could lead to a proposal to the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan for TEK inclusion and Treaty Right impact assessment under certain developments.
Mika Carriere and Pierrette Settee
Mika and Pierrette are both from the community of Cumberland House. Mika Carriere is of Métis decent and currently works for the Prince Albert Model Forest. Pierrette Settee is a First Nations woman specializing in Media Arts communications. Together, they are starting a grassroots movement to encourage the community in becoming “United for the Delta” for the Saskatchewan River Delta. A mini-project is to create awareness about the Delta and the community through Learning from our Elders, a concept that allows local youth to work with elders in mapping Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) stories within the region.
Shaunna Morgan-Siegers – Through the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI), Shaunna will continue to be involved in our boreal work through her facilitation and advisory support.
Gord Vaadeland – Gord is the ED at CPAWS Saskatchewan and has been a leader in the development of the SWAPP collaborative, from targeting issue areas to community needs.
Chanda Hunnie – Chanda works for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), with whom we are working alongside to coordinate conservation efforts toward key protected areas.
Ron Thiessen – Ron is the ED at CPAWS Manitoba, and like Gord is to SWAPP in Saskatchewan, Ron has guided our policy direction and led relationship building across Manitoba.