Ihda k’ètì Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring Project

Regions: North Slave Region

Principal Investigator: Snortland, Jody (2)
Licence Number: 14965
Organization: Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board
Licenced Year(s): 2011
Issued: Sep 08, 2011
Project Team: Karin Clark, MSc., Wildlife Management Biologist (Project Coordinator, WRRB), Joline Huskey, Lands Administration Officer (Project Coordinator, Tlicho Government), Albertine Eyakfwo (Traditional Knowledge Research Assistant, Tlicho Government), Beth Keats (Videographer, Golder Associates Ltd.), Dale Robertson (Fisheries Biologist, Golder Associates Ltd.), Natasha Thorpe (Traditional Knowledge Specialist, Natasha Thorpe Consulting), Georgina Chocolate (Traditional Knowledge Researcher, Tlicho Government)

Objective(s): To meaningfully share, document and bring together Tlîchô knowledge and western scientific knowledge in developing an aquatic ecosystem monitoring program.

Project Description: The main objectives of this project are to:
• meaningfully share, document and bring together Tlîchô knowledge and western scientific knowledge in developing an aquatic ecosystem monitoring program;
• develop and pilot protocols that reflect Tlîchô ways of assessing water quality, sediments and fish health suitable for Tlîchô youth and fishers to implement on an ongoing basis;
• adapt and pilot scientific protocols for assessing water quality, sediments and fish health suitable for Tlîchô youth and fishers to implement on an ongoing basis;
• collect and appropriately record data on water quality, sediments and fish health (including contaminants) of fish consumed by local community members in the Tlîchô area ;
• provide educational opportunities for youth to learn Tlîchô and scientific methods for assessing aquatic ecosystem health; and,
• provide Tlîchô youth with opportunity to engage in learning from elders and document Tlîchô knowledge through the use of video technology.

The project will test and build on protocols outlined in the CIMP Data Collection Protocol for the Fish Habitat, Population Harvest and Water and Sediment Quality Valued Components and be guided by the CIMP Pathways Project. This community-driven project is led by Behchokö elders supported by staff from the Tlîchô Government and WRRB and builds on a successfully implemented collaborative project conducted in 2010 on fish health in nearby Marian Lake and North Arm of Great Slave lake.

The project consists of three main phases: 1) a planning workshop in Behchokö; 2) monitoring camps in the summer ; and, 3) a reporting back to communities workshop in the fall. The planning workshop provides a forum to identify and document aspects of aquatic knowledge and indicators relevant to water quality, sediments and fish health from both a traditional knowledge and scientific viewpoint. Youth will be trained by a professional videographer in video filming and editing as a method of archiving traditional and scientific knowledge and to make a series of ‘how-to’ videos related to monitoring the aquatic environment while at this workshop and throughout the project.

A monitoring camp set up at Slemon Lake (location of traditional subsistence fisheries) will allow for the testing and refinement of both Tlîchô and scientific based monitoring protocols. Elders will provide assessments of fish health and water quality and describe the indicators they use. Scientists will train elders and youth on monitoring water quality, sediment and fish health indicators and to collect fish tissues for contaminant analysis. In this way the two knowledge systems will be utilized to develop two sets of monitoring protocols for long-term use and contribute to the overall Marian Lake Watershed Stewardship program as it is developed and implemented. In addition, the monitoring protocols developed and tested may contribute to a suite of standardized protocols for use across regions.

The purpose of the proposed project is to design and pilot an aquatic ecosystem monitoring program based on Tlîchô and scientific knowledge to determine whether fish health and water quality is changing over time. This program would contribute to cumulative effects monitoring by providing baseline and monitoring of trends through time of water quality, sediments and fish health in Sleman Lake. These data combined with monitoring information from water licence holders upstream, such as communities, mineral exploration projects and abandoned mines (e.g. Rayrock and Colomac) and long-term water quality monitoring stations (INAC Water Resources) will help us detect ecosystem changes that might be attributable to water quality issues.
In addition to a one-day planning workshop, a total of 11 Elders will participate in an Elder-youth camp for four days. Elders and youth will be compensated for their time. Educational, social, cultural and economic benefits will be realized through planning for the camp, carrying out the camp and training in TEK research and video production associated with the camp and follow-up reporting.

The reporting back activities of the project will involve a community workshop in Behchokö that will relay the goals, objectives and results of the project to camp participants and the general public and to provide a forum for showcasing the video and other communication tools developed. Reporting will be through: a) community meeting in Behchokö with participants to report on activities over the summer and results of sampling; and b) showcase video films produced by youth in communities and, if appropriate, on the internet or social media sites.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 7, 2011 to December 31, 2011.