Restoring Abundant Wetlands and Revitalizing the Culture on Ktunaxa Territory: Yaqan Nukiy Wetlands Project
This month, we shared a conversation with Norm Allard, the community planner for Lower Kootenay Band and a member of the Secwepemc First Nation.
In the Creston Valley, nestled between the Selkirk and Purcell mountains at the south end of Kootenay Lake, Norm Allard manages a large-scale wetland restoration project. The goal is to restore 517 hectares of floodplains that once supported a rich diversity of plants and animals.
The hunting grounds area (taken June 6, 2022).
The Creston Valley has been subject to significant alteration over the decades. A long time ago, the floodplain was drained to create agricultural land for settler communities. In the late 1960s, Ducks Unlimited launched efforts to artificially produce duck nesting habitat in the remaining wetlands. However, these processes disconnected the floodplains from surrounding rivers and streams, starving them of water and critical nutrient systems for native plants and animals.
As a collaboration between Lower Kootenay Band and the BC Wildlife Federation, the Yaqan Nukiy Wetlands Project aims to restore the area's natural role as a floodplain and key habitat for traditional food staples such as white sturgeon, burbot, kokanee salmon, and waterfowl.
After five years, one-third of the project area is complete - and they are seeing tremendous results, such as the return of sandhill cranes, blue herons, and Western painted turtles.
Part of both the challenge and the success of this work is developing a strategically-phased approach to implementing and monitoring restoration techniques.
"We haven't gone in and completed an area and then moved into the next. We spend each year in two or three of the four areas, then rotating. We've phased it out so that we're in the same area the following year and can see whether something's gone wrong. This strategy allows us to fix the practice throughout the rest of the project or implement highly successful techniques in other areas. We want to ensure we aren't continuing to do something detrimental." — Norm Allard
The project has also introduced an opportunity for increased economic capacity. Lower Kootenay Band has purchased a rock truck, trailer, and excavator for this work. More importantly, Yaqan Nukiy members have been hired or brought in to provide expertise, operate heavy equipment, gather and grow planted materials, and assist with processing data.
Wetland restoration in the Creston Valley is culturally significant because Yaqan Nukiy language and practices revolve around the land. In order to have more community members practicing and teaching traditions, native plant and animal populations must recover.
“We’re not going to go out there and take the last few plants just to have a ceremony – that’s our Indigenous perspective. This is cultural revitalization.” — Norm Allard
To learn more about the Yaqan Nukiy Wetland Restoration Project, visit the Nation’s dedicated project webpage or connect directly with Norm Allard (email@example.com).
Photo credit: Tom Biebighauser
AFN National Climate Strategy Webinars
August 10 & 17, 2022 | Online via Zoom
Over July and August 2022, the AFN Environment and Water Sectors is hosting "Wednesday Webinars" on the priority areas identified from the initial AFN National Climate Strategy webinars held virtually in November 2020 and April 2021.
Each webinar will include a brief presentation, followed by guided break-out sessions. The webinars are open to all First Nations citizens. French/English interpretation will be provided.
Webinar #3: August 10, 2022 (10 a.m. -1 p.m. PT) | REGISTER
- Close the natural and built infrastructure gap (emergency)
- Ensure First Nations are equipped to respond to all emergencies
Webinar #4: August 17, 2022, (10 a.m. -1 p.m. PT) | REGISTER
- Leverage the First Nations Climate Lens to reform legislation, policy, and programs
Contact: Graeme Reed (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Melissa White (email@example.com)
The BC Assembly of First Nations is seeking a skilled and motivated individual to provide policy support to the BCAFN Climate and Environment portfolio on matters related to climate change, emergency management, conservation, and biodiversity.
The NIF is the first federal program focused on natural infrastructure. It aims to build community awareness of the value and opportunities of natural and hybrid infrastructure, and to increase its uptake and use across Canada. The NIF Small Projects Stream will support new projects with total eligible costs between $30,000 and $3 million.
The ARDM program will fund flood mitigation infrastructure projects for individual communities and joint applications submitted by multiple communities. There is $81.865 million in provincial and federal dollars to support projects that increase structural and/or natural capacity with the intent of reducing, or even negating, the effects of flooding.
This funding focuses on Indigenous, rural, and remote communities that use diesel or fossil fuels for heat or power, and supports all project stages and a variety of technology types. Indigenous-owned or led projects, or projects with community partnerships, will be prioritized.
This webpage lists federal funding available to support Indigenous climate action for a safer and cleaner environment for future generations. Use the filters to narrow your search results.
Find available funding here.
The First Nations–Canada Joint Committee on Climate Action (JCCA) released its 4th annual report to the AFN National Chief and the Prime Minister. The report highlights five priority areas for the JCCA, such as accelerating First Nations participation in clean growth and embedding an intergenerational and intersectional dialogue on climate change in all JCCA activities.
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