Since CIER’s inception in 1995, we have worked on more than 450 environment focused projects with over 300 First Nations across Canada. Read about some of our major achievements below.
Combining Indigenous and western knowledge systems for environmental protection and management. 51 students from First Nations across the country graduated. Most work in the environmental field, and many have gone on to post-graduate education and senior positions within their community, government, and the private sector.
CIER developed six Guidebooks to ‘walk and talk’ First Nations through the community climate change planning process. The Guidebooks contain suggestions of how a First Nation might plan for climate change, while involving community members.
CIER developed the First Nations Fish Habitat Program (FNFHP) to help First Nations protect fish habitat and maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems. The FNFHP developed the skills, knowledge, and resources needed for Manitoba First Nations to address regional and local fish habitat issues. Through the FNFHP, CIER delivered research and information resources, educational experiences for children and youth, and practical training. First Nations members managing fish habitat gained knowledge and training in aquatic habitat assessment, sustainable cattle management practices, and water quality monitoring.
CIER, with our First Nation Partners, created a tool that provides guidance for First Nations who want to take action on watershed planning. This tool includes a framework, series of user friendly citizen guidebooks, and training. These guidebooks propose a model of watershed planning that is led by First Nations and addresses unique First Nation needs, relationships, and rights. These guidebooks support increased First Nations involvement in regional watershed planning processes.
CIER organized and hosted two international forums that gathered leaders in Indigenous adaptation from Canada and the U.S. The focus was food security and traditional plant use in the context of 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. This forum, which focused on climate change adaptation planning, was followed by a second working meeting in Toronto. This second meeting, held in Toronto from December 3-4, 2017, focused on adaptation planning processes and fostering meaningful networks among participants. Participants planned to stay connected through newsletters, for peer review and support and via conference calls, and through invitations to future visits.
Indigenous youth were fully funded to participate in four workshops around the country (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Hudson Bay watersheds), where they learned from and were inspired by a variety of leaders from media, politics, advocacy, literary, scientific and other fields from across Canada. Real solutions to water issues were crafted by the youth participants and implemented in their communities with support from their community and CIER. The youth shared digital stories about their progress on CIER’s IFF Culture website and celebrated their successes during Canada Water Week 2014.
One of the important initiatives CIER supports is a First Nations Water Governance Roundtable, in partnership with the First Nations Fisheries Council
The Brokenhead River runs directly through the Brokenhead Wetland, flowing north into Lake Winnipeg. The local riverbank has been subjected to extensive soil erosion and collapse. This degradation poses several environmental risks, including fish habitat loss. To stabilize the Brokenhead River shoreline, a soil bioengineering technique was used.
Wattle fences, short retaining walls built of living cuttings, can be used at sites where over-steepened slopes are preventing growth of vegetation. From November 15-17, 2017, the project team shoveled terraced steps out of the riverbank, installed rebar posts, and placed willows horizontally and vertically along the riverbank. Continued monitoring of the site has demonstrated the success of this natural stabilization technique.
Upon the request, and with the financial support of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program, CIER hosted the National Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Symposium (November 7th – 9th, 2017, Winnipeg, MB).
This symposium brought together over 130 Indigenous participants (Elders, youth, community leaders, scientists, environmental technicians, and land managers), as well as government agency representatives working on, or interested in, Indigenous community-based climate monitoring. Over the course of the symposium, Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast shared their stories and reflections on climate change and Indigenous community-based monitoring initiatives.
Sustainable waste management is an ongoing concern for many Indigenous communities. There are several environmental issues and challenges that communities are confronted with when dealing with waste management. Through this project, CIER is building capacity, supporting collaborative partnerships, and developing educational tools related to First Nations waste management in Manitoba.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region and South Basin of Lake Winnipeg includes 23 municipalities and the City of Winnipeg, the traditional, reserve and TLE territories of approximately 35-40 First Nations, and is part of the traditional homeland of the Metis Nation. This region includes 68% of the provincial population and 70% of the GDP of Manitoba. Despite overlapping territories, common interests, and effects of decision-making by Indigenous and municipal governments in this region, there remains a critical need for building positive relationships. CIER supported a meeting of these parties in March 2018, where elected leaders from First Nations and Municipalities agreed upon key priorities and resolved to work collectively to build a ‘collaborative governance table’.
The Shining Lights workshops were created to increase energy literacy in the Northwest Territories and promote energy-efficient practices. Forty-eight women and youth from nineteen communities participated in workshops that were held in Inuvik, Fort Simpson, and Yellowknife throughout 2019. Participants received training through an interactive and engaging curriculum that focuses on energy basics, energy efficiency and energy conservation. This curriculum was developed in partnership with Pembina Institute, Arctic Energy Alliance and CIER.
CIER announced the launch of the Indigenous Climate Change Adaption Planning Toolkit, created with First Nations Adapt. The toolkit supports Indigenous communities as they plan for climate risks like the loss of Winter roads, wildfires, and more. The Toolkit’s climate adaption guidebooks, 2 Indigenous glossaries, and other user-friendly resources can support communities no matter where they are in their climate change adaption journey.
A new online learning resource called CIER Ecoversity was created to better serve Indigenous communities across Canada. Its inaugural course (ICCAP) was released in December 2022.
Over the past 25 years and in excess of 1000 projects, CIER has developed numerous Indigenous community-based tools and learning resources. Frequently, Indigenous communities request these resources but given many of them involve in-person instruction or physical copies of toolkits, CIER lacked the capacity to provide the materials or instruction to many as originally delivered. CIER Ecoversity changes this by providing more Indigenous communities access to the most requested resources that will be adapted into online learning courses.
CIER was excited to be partnering with Sandy Bay First Nation on this project to create a climate change adaptation plan, using CIER’s Indigenous Climate Change Adaptation Planning (ICCAP) Guidebooks. At a community engagement event in March, they heard from several Elders from the Sandy Bay Council of Elders about the cultural importance of different trees and how vital it was to have more trees planted in Sandy Bay.
There was a lot of excitement around the idea of tree planting in the community, and over 100 households in Sandy Bay requested trees. CIER staff hosted workshops in collaboration with the community’s Climate Change Coordinator Lindsay McIvor and Youth Coordinator Kateri Roulette in order to give community members opportunities to discuss ways they’ve been experiencing climate change.