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Climate monitoring stations on Sask. First Nation to help form adaption plan

Okanese First Nation has partnered with University of Saskatchewan researchers to track and adapt to the effects of climate change. University of Saskatchewan / Supplied

Okanese First Nation is using monitoring stations to track and adapt to the effects of climate change on reserve lands in southern Saskatchewan.

The first of four automated stations was installed on Okanese land earlier in October through a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). Members of the community were also trained on how to install and maintain the equipment.

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The climate monitoring stations will record the local temperature, rainfall, humidity, air pressure and wind. Data will be used in two related projects: a climate change adaptation plan and a drinking water protection plan.

The initiative is supported by $125,000 over three years from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

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U of S department of geography and planning faculty member Bob Patrick is a co-leader of the partnership. He said it’s important the planning process draws on both western scientific knowledge and Indigenous knowledge.

“Blending western and Indigenous land-based knowledge to address pressing issues like climate change and water protection is a win-win for everyone,” Patrick said in a press release.

“We’ll be listening to what the instruments are saying and what the elders are saying, and seeing how one can corroborate the other.”

Patrick will facilitate meetings in the coming weeks where Okanese members will identify risks posed by climate change and develop an action plan.

The goal of the project is to help restore the local ecological balance as well as the community’s relationship with the land.

“Climate change threatens Kikawinaw Askiy (Mother Earth)—our lands, water, plants and, ultimately, our livelihood—all that gives us life,” Okanese First Nation Chief Marie-Anne Daywalker-Pelletier said in a press release.

“As First Nations, we have a duty to protect the land.”

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Grass fires fueled by drought and threats to the community’s drinking water supply are among the concerns that motivated the second project. A protection plan is expected to be developed through the partnership.

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The Okanese First Nation is roughly 100 kilometres northeast of Regina.

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