Food Security and Drinking Water Vulnerability Assessment Related to Permafrost Degradation in the Jean Marie River First Nation
Principal Investigator: Ireland, Margaret (3)
Licence Number: 15325
Organization: Jean Marie River First Nation
Licensed Year(s): 2013
Issued: Aug 15, 2013
Project Team: Margaret Ireland (Project Lead, Jean Marie River First Nation), Fabrice Calmels (Project Officer, Yukon College), Cyrielle Laurent (Project Officer, Watertight Solutions)

Objective(s): To provide the community with a practical tool for assessing Jean Marie River’s (JMR) vulnerability to food security in relation to country foods, as well as the vulnerability of sources of country foods and drinkable water used by the community members out on the land, in the context of climate change.

Project Description: The main objective of this one year project is to provide the community with a practical tool for assessing Jean Marie River’s (JMR’s) vulnerability to food security in relation to country foods, as well as the vulnerability of sources of country foods and drinkable water used by the community members out on the land, in the context of climate change. This tool will consist of a mapping of permafrost areas used for subsistence purposes that are sensitive to permafrost degradation. To reach this principal goal, the project aims to achieve two specific objectives:
• Use traditional, local knowledge and scientific surveys to identify forested and shrubby areas that are likely to evolve into lacustrine or swampy areas because of permafrost degradation that are used by the community for hunting, trapping, gathering, and other cultural activities.
• Compile knowledge gathered from the community meetings, the focus group, scientific surveys, and previous studies to provide a vulnerability assessment for the Jean Marie River First Nation’s (JMRFN’s) traditional lands within 40 km from the community in terms of food security and drinking water related to permafrost degradation.

Under the lead of the JMRFN, community members and consultants will work together using the following methodology:
• A working group composed of community members and consultants will be created to identify the areas used for hunting, gathering, and trapping via workshops and/or a focus group. The identified areas will be digitized and integrated in a GIS database. The initial meeting will also serve the purpose of confirming the goals, objectives, work plan, the timeline, the study area of the project, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the members of the working group. The working group will coordinate the project using a step-by-step approach and will ensure the successful development of the project. Building on knowledge acquired during year 2012-2013, the field work preparation will start.
• Air photo Interpretation, of existing aerial photography and satellite imagery, will be used to map forested, bushy, and peat land areas underlain by permafrost and susceptible to degrade into wetland, or swamp, due to thawing permafrost. The resulting maps will be incorporated into the GIS database by the consultants. This work will be used to orient the geologic field work and select specific study sites for the permafrost survey. This will constitute the first step into the elaboration of the hazard vulnerability map.
• Fieldwork will be conducted to confirm the aerial photo survey and to collect information about permafrost conditions such as soil nature, active layer thicknesses, ground thermal regime, and ground ice contents.
• The GIS database will be used to combine the results of the focus group, the permafrost condition survey, and the map of the sensitive permafrost areas to produce a vulnerability map, ranking areas at risk to be altered into swampy (muskeg) areas unfit for hunting, trapping and gathering.
• Resulting products will be reviewed by the working group comprising of JMR community members and our consultants, and then communicated to the community via meetings, workshops, reports and pamphlets.

The fieldwork and community meetings/workshops will be conducted in the community of JMR. Knowledge and data collected in the community and through fieldwork will be analyzed and processed by subject matter specialists (the consultants) based in Edmonton, Alberta.

This project will be carried out using a step by step approach. The majority of the work for this project will be conducted in the community of JMR. Some activities, such as chemical analyses, will be conducted outside of the community by the consultants. The methods that will be used to accomplish this project are as follows:
• Establishment of a working group comprising of community members and consultants;
• Identifying areas used for hunting, gathering, and trapping by focus group mapping session;
• Aerial photo and satellite imagery interpretation, using vegetation cover, aiming to map sensitive areas to permafrost degradation identified by focus group participants.
• Geological survey;
• Analysis and synthesis of information collected from focus group, and geological survey
• Community workshops/meetings to disseminate project progress and results; and,
• Write up of a Final Report summarizing project findings.

Community members who use, or have had used the land in the traditional lands of the JMRFN will be invited to participate in community meetings and focus groups to gather Traditional Knowledge concerning how climate change is affecting the local landscape, as well as identification of areas of thawing permafrost known to community members. As well as providing knowledge, the members will also participate in the fieldwork survey by providing the heavy equipment and operators, and assisting the consultants with the geological and air photo surveys. The youth will also be involved in this project. The research team will build on the GPS and Unmanned Aerial System training they received during the 2012-2013 permafrost vulnerability assessment. The youth will participate in two days of field work training where they will use the GPS, learn to take field notes and be shown what a geological survey is. Elders will also participate in this training and will share their Traditional Knowledge about working and traveling on the land. The Project Lead (Margret Ireland from Jean Marie River), with assistance from the Working Group, will facilitate the logistics for organizing initiatives to disseminate information regarding project progress, and to develop contacts and communications between the consultants and the community.

After the field work takes place and once all the data has been analyzed and interpreted, the working group will disseminate the results of this project to the members of the community at meetings and workshops, via oral communication, posters, reports, and pamphlets. Communications will be maintained on a regular basis among the Project Lead, members of the working group, and consultants throughout the course of the project in order for team members to review and provide input and direction regarding activities, and ensure that project objectives are meeting the expectations.

The project working group will disseminate information about the project to members of JMR in the form of community information meetings and workshops before and after the fieldwork is completed. Moreover, as this project is community driven, community members can contact the project working group regularly throughout the course of the project for updates, and to address any questions and/or concerns.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 15, 2013 to September 30, 2013.