Why It’s Important
Involving community members in the implementation of your monitoring project will help ensure the project reflects local priorities, increases the probability skills gained through the project remain in the community, and generates useful information to understand and adapt to climate change. This can help secure the community buy-in needed to sustain your project over the long-term. Working together builds community connections and capacity of community members which can help make your community more resilient to climate change.
Many Indigenous communities, as well as other organizations, across Canada conduct climate monitoring. Different organizations have different strengths, capacities and resources. By working together and sharing knowledge, the monitoring work can be more impactful and effective at understanding climate change. External partners can provide specialized expertise and training and may be able to share equipment, staff, data management systems, and combine resources to achieve a common goal.
Key Questions and Considerations
Working within your community
Seeking the wisdom of Elders
Indigenous Knowledge is a critical part of all Indigenous-led climate monitoring projects. Seeking the guidance of Elders, Knowledge keepers, and land users from your community can help to make sure your project is undertaken in a good way, based in holistic and intergenerational knowledge of the changing environment from those in close connection to the traditional territory.
In many climate monitoring projects, Elders guide where monitoring activities take place, when, and how. Many projects also involve documenting Indigenous Knowledge (refer to Step 4: Approach and Methods). Elders often participate in on-the-land projects, sharing stories of the changing environment and teaching essential skills as well as methods of observation. Elders may participate as part of project advisory committees or share their knowledge in interviews. Elders can also become involved in outreach with youth at schools or in other settings, among other roles in your project.
Build from community strengths
Community members can participate in many ways such as participating in engagement, guiding the project, and as project staff or volunteers. Hiring and training community members will help to build the capacity of your community and contribute toward the long-term sustainability of your monitoring project. Seeking out and considering the diverse perspectives and unique contributions of your community members across genders, generations, and roles and functions within the community can be a valuable asset.
There are numerous organizations and networks that can support the development of a community-based climate monitoring project. Many of these may exist in your own community including:
- Councils and community government staff
- Health centres
- Schools and adult learning centres
- Volunteer organizations
- Hunters and Trappers Organizations
- Community-owned corporations
Asset mapping may help you to identify these strengths. A community asset is any resource that improves the quality of community life and may include for example stories, physical and economic assets, institutions, and people. Asset mapping provides information about the strengths and resources of your community and can help uncover solutions.
Some communities develop an advisory committee to guide their project. An advisory committee can provide advice and resources to help to ensure your project is on-track to meet its objectives and to ensure the outcomes are useful. Membership relates to your needs, but could include Knowledge holders, Elders, community leaders, youth, project participants, and community members or others.
Involving youth in your community-based monitoring project can have a significant positive impact on your project while nurturing future generations. Youth participation will help develop practical skills, provide work experience, support youth reconnection with culture and the land, and create a sense of identity and pride. Youth participation can cross all phases of your monitoring project including engagement, interviews with Elders, involvement in environmental monitoring as well analyzing and communicating data.
Consider conducting outreach to nearby schools to share information about your project and build awareness and excitement about the project among youth. Some projects involve school groups in collecting and analyzing climate data as part of their lessons. Find out more about climate change and climate monitoring educational tools here.
Consider ways your project can offer opportunities for youth, Elders, and the generations in between, to interact and share knowledge. Hands-on learning while on the land is particularly valuable, especially when cultural teachings, language, and spirituality are integrated. On-the-land or science camps can be a great way to provide this hands-on-learning while collecting valuable data. Remember that youth also have a lot to teach. Youth are often tech savvy and can be leaders in using apps or other technological solutions to track environmental change.
Having a community member or organization as a champion for your project is a factor for success in many community-based monitoring projects. A community champion, often the project lead, has a strong vision for the project. Champions can play many roles such as:
- Support smooth and effective implementation and communication about the monitoring initiative
- Keep community members engaged and informed about the project
- Harness external opportunities for community capacity building
- Act as a liaison between community members and external partners
If multiple communities are gathering similar kinds of data, a bigger picture understanding of trends and patterns can be developed. By participating in a collaborative network you can:
- Share how-to approaches, methods, and tools
- Support others by sharing ideas for relevant indicators or data to fill gaps
- Coordinate training and networking between staff
- Compare monitoring outcomes
- Share costs or co-invest in a database system
You can build a network by reaching out to communities and organizations in your region or by connecting with others monitoring similar indicators which you wish to monitor, such as water quality or caribou. By participating in a citizen science network you can link to others following a standardized approach to observing changes in the environment. There are many citizen science programs across Canada.
Examples of regional approaches to Indigenous community-based monitoring are happening across the country. Find examples in the Map of Indigenous Climate Monitoring Projects and Stories section. Find out about existing networks and other resources to build your own network in the Resources section below.
Are there external partners who could support your project? Partnerships beyond your community can bring expertise, resources, and help develop the capacity for your community-led initiative. In addition to other Indigenous organizations and communities, these partners may come from academic institutions, governments, NGOs, consultants, and others. You can find project partners by researching nearby experts related to your key monitoring questions, looking at resources from nearby educational institutes, and talking to your networks and collaborators, for example.
When working with partners, it’s especially important to clearly identify how Indigenous Knowledge and scientific data collected through the project will be stored, owned, managed, protected, and shared. Protecting the Intellectual Property rights of Indigenous Knowledge holders is critical.
Community Spotlight - Examples of Regional Monitoring Projects
Mackenzie River Basin
First Nations and Inuvialuit communities are working together to document changes in fish, water, livelihoods, and well-being through a networked approach to community-based monitoring.
Learn more here.
Maps and Lists of Climate and Environmental Monitoring Initiatives
- Map of Indigenous Climate Monitoring Projects
- Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program (refer to project lists)
- Climate Atlas of Canada
- Map of Adaptation Actions
- Atlas of Community-Based Monitoring and Indigenous Knowledge in a Changing Arctic
- Climate Action Map – Government of Canada
- Mapping Climate Change in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region – Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
- Climate Telling – Project list
- Boreal Caribou Interactive Map
- Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program Project Map
- Indigenous Guardians Toolkit Map – Canada
Monitoring Networks and Partners
- Indigenous Climate Hub Members Network
- National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium
- Atlantic Water Network
- Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network
- Hudson Bay Consortium – Community-Driven Research and Monitoring Working Group
- Canadian Mountain Network Research Program
- Directory of Government of Canada Scientists and Professionals
- Polar Data Catalogue (a site for sharing information about Arctic research)
- Citizen Science Portal
- Participatory Monitoring and Management Partnership
- Negotiating Research Relationships with Inuit Communities: A Guide for Researchers – Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Research Institute
- Guidance Document for Community Knowledge Protocols (CKP) and Data Sharing Agreements (DSA) – Ravenscall Enterprise Ltd.
- Beyond Conservation – Indigenous Knowledge Circle