Cassette Islands Project
Principal Investigator: Paulette, Cochise (1)
Licence Number: 15709
Organization: Smiths Landing First Nation
Licensed Year(s): 2015
Issued: Jul 08, 2015
Project Team: Siku Allooloo (Project Manager, Aurora Research Institute), Cochise Paulette (Field Coordinator, Smith's Landing First Nation), Sadele Paulette (Field Lead, Aurora Research Institute), Sarah Rosolen (Project Advisor, Monitoring Supervisor, Aurora Research Institute), Francois Paulette (Consultant, Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Jeff Dixon (Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Matthew Dares (Technology Advisor, Aurora Research Institute), Elder (Teacher, Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Elder (Teacher, Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Elder (Teacher, Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Elder (Teacher, Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Elder (Teacher, Project Advisor, Smith's Landing First Nation), Youth (Fieldworker, Smith's Landing First Nation), Youth (Fieldworker, Smith's Landing First Nation), Youth (Fieldworker, Smith's Landing First Nation), Youth (Fieldworker, Smith's Landing First Nation), Youth (Fieldworker, Smith's Landing First Nation)

Objective(s): To continue monitoring the land using the combined skills and resources of this project; to promote use of traditional knowledge in decision making; to provide recommendations from this vulnerability assessment for the development of a community-based adaptation plan to address climate change, health, and food security; and to equip the next generation of land-users, environmental observers and care-takers to maintain connections to the land and cultural ways of life.

Project Description: The short term objectives of this project are to:
1) Document and present and historical data on the local environment and wildlife;
2) Assess the impacts of climate change on our community's health and food security;
3) Support intergenerational knowledge sharing between elders and youth on the land;
4) Engage our community in the research;
5) Build traditional knowledge capacity in our community; and
6) Build applied technical capacity in our community.

The long-term objectives of this project are to:
1) Empower ourselves to continue monitoring our territory using the combined skills and resources of this project;
2) Promote use of traditional knowledge in decision making;
3) Provide recommendations from this vulnerability assessment for the development of a community-based adaptation plan to address climate change, health, and food security;
4) Equip the next generation of land-users, environmental observers and care-takers to maintain connections to the land and cultural ways of life.

The Cassette Islands Project is a community-based-participatory research (CBPR) project that will use a variety of traditional and scientific methods to address concerns identified by our community. The CBPR model emphasizes the importance of community involvement at all stages of research as well as the value of blending community skills with scientific research skills, thus making it an excellent methodology for our project.

Data collection will occur in two phases:
1. Identifying indicators: interviews and focus groups will be conducted with local land-users to identify indicators of concern regarding climate change, health and traditional food security.
2. Field camps: traditional observation, environmental monitoring and digital data collection will take place according to the indicators identified earlier in the study.

In addition to these two phases of data collection, there will be ongoing film and photo data collection throughout all project activities. Everyone involved in the project will have the opportunity to be a research participant as well, through interviews, photos and film data collection. These film and photo data will contribute to a documentary film and photo-point mapping to be used as community knowledge translation tools.

The research program consists of traditional observation and field monitoring camps for elders, land-users (hunters and trappers), and youth at Cassette Islands in the spring and summer of 2015. Elders and land-users will teach youth how to observe the land and assess patterns of change; and youth will also be trained in environmental science field monitoring techniques. Traditional Knowledge observations will be collected through user-friendly digital technology designed for land-users to collect field data (photos, videos, notes, etc.), which creates a database of geospatial information that can be used in making maps, for example. We will also create photopoint maps, which will be used to document changes to the land over time and into the future. Much of the research will take place during the field camps, however many of the research activities will also continue outside of the camps, likely in smaller groups or one-on-one interviews.

Smiths Landing First Nation youth and Elders will be active participants in the project including: determining indicators, conducting interviews, sharing knowledge in interviews, collecting field data and observations, and taking part in the field camps. In addition, the late summer-early fall field expedition will include a feast at the Cassette Islands camp open to all community members. This will be a time to share food and stories about the project, celebrate the work and connections that were made, and involve the wider community in sharing the experience. Finally, youth will present their experiences to the community after the monitoring has been wrapped up.

Capacity building is fundamental to the Cassette Islands Project and several community members will benefit directly from the different types of training opportunities, for example:
• ARI will train an environmental science student from the community to be the Field Lead, (which includes training in environmental monitoring, data management, logistical planning, and supervisory skills).
• Youth will be trained in traditional observation skills by land users and elders.
• SLFN will build capacity in environmental monitoring, data management, and assessment of environmental data to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities.
• The Field Lead will train youth in environmental monitoring techniques and will help to coordinate logistics, camp setup and take-down, transportation, and assist with interim reporting.
• All project personnel will be trained in using digital data collection in the field.

Upon completion of the project, Smith’s Landing First Nation will be equipped with the skills and resources to continue environmental monitoring in our territory using a variety of methods and knowledge traditions. Because capacity will be developed within Smith Landing First Nations membership and community, using traditional knowledge and digital data collection, the research team will be able to integrate the applied skills and continue the work as part of their ongoing land and resource management.

The information and findings generated through the overall research program will be used to produce a variety of knowledge translation tools: a documentary film of the project, photo point maps of the area, land-user generated information about the land, a project newsletter, a plain-language report, and a vulnerability assessment regarding the impacts of climate change on our community and our traditional food security. These will be utilized by SLFN in future projects and decision-making, and will also be made available to our membership for future reference and community-building.

The research team will hold community presentations to report on the project findings and disseminate the information produced. This will include film screenings and presentations at the SLFN band office, in local schools and public venues throughout the community of Fort Smith. These tools will be shared with partners, stakeholders and the community to highlight the practical importance of the study findings.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 8, 2015 to December 31, 2015.