Facilitating Indigenous Community-Based Ecological Monitoring

Also in October 2017, we completed the challenging Phase 1 assignment for Pimicikamak Okimawin to design a community-based ecological monitoring program focused on real-time mitigation of hydro-electric generation impacts on an important lake regime in northern Manitoba. This riverine lake is the foundation for a historic enduring Indigenous culture of People now seeking to restore the productivity of the damaged ecosystem. The multidisciplinary work, informed by consultation with experts across Canada in limnology, fisheries, toxicology and Indigenous education, and similar ground-breaking work in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the world (e.g. Vietnam), began in January 2016. A critical component was an invitation-only, 2-day workshop of experts to discuss ‘the art of the possible’ for lower-impact operations of a flood-prone lake used as a storage reservoir, in both ecological and sociocultural terms. The workshop also identified how monitoring data could be used to identify, design, implement and track the effectiveness of localized opportunities for mitigation of past impacts. A Phase 2 pilot program to test, refine, and improve the logistics of the Phase 1 conceptual design could be designed and launched late this summer. It would be preceded by an Indigenous environmental monitoring training curriculum. The curriculum would be tailored to this water system and the interests and aptitudes of the community students. It would be delivered in Winnipeg and in the communities, early this summer.

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