The primary goal of this project was to host a workshop to further capacity building among tribal and indigenous groups to build resilience in their communities and adapt to climate change. A forum of 55 people was held in Akwesasne, a First Nation and Tribal community in Canada and the USA from September 18-20, 2012. Participants came from 5 provinces and 3 territories in Canada, and 4 states in the USA. Representatives from the Canadian departments Health Canada, Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada, and the US EPA and Geological Services attended. The forum was a combination of formal presentations, case study presentations by participants, group discussions, networking opportunities and cultural events. Despite the success of the initial forum, many participants noted that it was just a first step in a much larger process; it was seen more as relationship building forum, but a necessary step to share knowledge and successes and challenges with others. We also heard from many participants that our time together at the initial forum did not focus enough on the actual doing of adaptation planning, despite this being part of the intent through the worksheets and the group work in the agenda. To address these issues, and to strengthen the connections made in Akwesasne, a second working meeting was planned.
On December 3 and 4, 2012, 10 people from Canada and the USA gathered in Toronto to delve more deeply into adaptation planning processes, share additional local information, and foster meaningful networks and friendships among these participants. Discussions about how to stay connected with the group to continue to grow the relationships developed from the two forums were also part of the second forum.
Information from the two gatherings is shared on CIER’s website and YouTube channel. Participants plan to stay connected both formally through reaching out to each other through newsletters, for peer review and support and via conference calls, and informally through invitations to events and individual relationships. Future meetings of both small and large groups, joint projects, medicine swaps, and ongoing learning and sharing about local implementation of climate change adaptation are all ideas for future work together.
This work was made possible with a North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action grant from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.