Prince Albert Model Forest is, first and foremost, about bringing communities together. We work hard to connect people to each other and build the bridges that are necessary to achieve common goals.
Often, those goals are related to land management, sustainability, and environmental recovery, restoration, and conservation. The community partners may change, but those things that we hold in common do not. That’s where the Community Engaged History Collaboratorium at the University of Saskatchewan comes in.
The Collaboratorium is “designed to facilitate research partnerships between the University of Saskatchewan and community partners in ways that communities themselves identify as meaningful and beneficial. Rather than merely bringing research and analysis to communities (outreach), the Community Engaged Collaboratorium starts from the assumption that research projects should be co-designed and co-executed with communities. Through trustful relationships, faculty and mentored students work with community partners to co-create new knowledge that meets the highest academic standards while addressing intimate community needs.”
Caribou At Risk
This summer, Prince Albert Model Forest (PAMF) is working with the Community Engaged Collaboratorium on a project titled “Community Participation in Woodland Caribou Research and Recovery in Northern Saskatchewan.” The focus of this project is to co-design stewardship and recovery of the woodland caribou in Northern Saskatchewan with the Indigenous communities who actually live on the land and will be the ones hired to implement the eventual range plans.
In the photo above, land-user Raymond Highway (left), PAMF general manager Sarah Schmid (centre right), and Collaboratorium research assistant Eden Friesen (right) pose with Elder Annie Sewap at her home several hours by boat from Pelican Narrows. This photo was taken after interviewing Annie about her experiences with woodland caribou over the years.
Indigenous participation in previous environmental restorative action has been lacking at best. Often, “participation” is boiled down to a mere consultation at the end of plan-drafting, and the communities are offered the chance to look over an already-formed action plan without opportunity for meaningful contribution.
This project is an effort to incorporate meaningful Metis, First Nations, and Indigenous voices from the ground up. To this end, Eden Friesen, the Collaboratorium’s 2018 summer student, will be undertaking a best-practices handbook entitled “Grassroots Stewardship.” This will be a guideline on how best to go about collecting and incorporating Indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge into land-use management plans.
Click here to learn more about woodland caribou as a species at risk in Canada.