Atlantic Region Climate Change Conference Sept. 14 -16, 2010

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Atlantic Region Climate Change Conference Sept. 14 -16, 2010.
Project Coordinator

Randy Angus, Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island (MCPEI)


Mary Knockwood, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada


Bill Sluiman, Indigenous Cooperative on the Environment

Background/Rationale for this project

Climate Change is impacting Atlantic Canada at an exponential rate. It is projected that there will be an ever increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and coastal communities have already been affected and are expected to be the first to experience the effects of these events.

Many coastal communities throughout the Atlantic are experiencing significant property damage and hardship from not only extreme weather events but rising sea levels as well. Atlantic Aboriginal communities are no exception to this effect and have seen a loss and change of traditional life and income due to this effect.

These impacts are expected to accelerate as higher concentrations of greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. While Atlantic Canada is working to reduce emissions, it is essential that the Aboriginal communities in the region understand the impacts of climate change better and how we can adapt.

The general circulation of the atmosphere has lead to changes in rainfall and winter temperatures. These factors have lead to earlier breakups of the winter ice cover in rivers, and lower summer water flows.

High water flows could lead to overflowing rivers, erosion and subsequent damage to the surrounding areas.

The northern regions of Atlantic Canada, such as Labrador, may experience significant impacts due to climate change. Many people in Labrador depend on the land to provide their livelihood. If resources such as plants, berries, and animals are no longer able to survive in a warmer climate, people may be forced to depend on other means of food.

The shorelines of Atlantic Canada are dotted with many coastal communities. Recent mapping exercises have found that flooding of low lying areas is increasing exponentially. Many Aboriginal Communities in the Atlantic are found on the coast, these occurrences may have a more immediate impact.

Although Aboriginal people have always adapted to variations in their climate, their successful ability to do so in today’s rapidly changing climate is determined by their access to resources, ability of access to their rights and their scientific and technical capacity. We plan not only to assist in the increase of technical capacity, but to work together in developing an online group which will assist in continuing the networking and sharing of information from all participants.

As we go through life we sometimes feel that we are alone in what we go through. The network and information shared and developed at this workshop, will strive to alleviate some of these feelings of isolation when it comes to impacts from climate change on their lives and communities.

Aboriginal communities throughout Canada are seeing the following issues being impacted by climate change and the adaptation process including planning from others and not from our communities; as such these issues will set the tone throughout the workshop:

a) Impacts on Aboriginal gathering rights

b) Impacts on treaty rights

c) Impacts on Aboriginal lands

d) Impacts on Aboriginal rights
Through the “introduction” and each proceeding day’s greeting, this tone will be set for the workshop; which will not only remind but provide direction, ensuring that the above issues are kept relevant throughout the three days.
This workshop will be working towards building not only a vital networking tool for our communities, but developing an adaptation strategy with the input from our community participants. An e-group will be formed and nurtured throughout the conference. Initiating this group will provide follow-through after the conference where information can be gathered, questions can be asked, guidance can be requested, and support can be given. This tool can and will grow with changing needs over the coming years as new information, programs and strategies are developed and become available, as we move forward with medium and long term outcomes. Where Climate Change is not only affecting our region; information, outcomes and the workshop itself can easily be transferred to other regions across Canada. This initiative will be strengthened with the aid of the Indigenous Cooperative on the Environment (ICE) a national environmental organization whom we have obtained as our facilitator.

In this manner capacity will be available as people transition through jobs, and new community members look for information and assistance.

The overall development of the workshop and e-group will be based on community to community contact where ‘lessons learned’ are shared which will allow individual communities to effectively deal with their unique situations.

This toolbox will include documents that aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities have provided through the hosting partners, which are relevant to understanding the flexibility of the communities and the process that can be utilized to engage community members. This toolbox will also extend into an online e-group which will be accessible to participants and many more who are and will be working on impacts to climate change in their communities. This access will help form a network which will further the longevity of and support the work commenced here at the workshop. It will be a place in which information will be available to participant to help them implement what has been gathered at the conference when they return to their communities.

Capacity development of emergency planning, impact, adaptation, mapping and an identification of risks will be provided through the facilitation process on day three. The groups will be developed by determining similar size, structure, social, remoteness etc. Part of the facilitation in the afternoon on day three will include identification of adaptation actions and projects specifically to keep a working group continuing to interact through various communication strategies after conference.

Throughout the workshop information & presentations will be collected, and video documentation will be gathered. These will all be made available in the online group, and where possible on a memory stick which will be given to all participants. The workshop will develop a foundation for a network and will lead to an adaptation strategy which Atlantic Aboriginal groups and communities can work on together. And finally, community awareness and lessening of social stresses are outcomes of this workshop which will be transferable to other regions across Canada through the relationship built with ICE.

This three day workshop will entail 6 major themes along with group participation. Climate Change 101, Mapping, ATK, Adaptation Strategies and Planning are what we feel will be the first 5 themes (actual titles may change but content there in will fall within these 5 groups). The sixth theme is an overall theme carried throughout the workshop “What’s happening in your neck of the woods” this theme will engage communities which have had climate change impacts, adaptation projects and communities seeing active climate change issues. The workshop will be targeting all Atlantic Region Aboriginal Communities, looking to invite not only community officials but people from the grassroots such as women, elders, children and spiritual people. As it will be, band officials working in unison with the grassroots people, who will make or break any community adaptation strategy coming out of this workshop. We will also be inviting Federal Government officials such as INAC HQ, the Privy Council and Treasury Board as we would like to showcase what the Impacts and Adaptation funding has brought to the Atlantic Region.
All First Nations that attend will leave with increased knowledge, understanding and written material will be provided, as well as a copy of all presentations on a memory stick, to take back to their communities. A final report (which will include a list of participants and the agenda) will be distributed to all including INAC.
Tentative Agenda

Tuesday 14th

1. Chief Akagi – Blending Indigenous Knowledge, prophesies and western sciences.

2. Tammy Keats – NL Dept. of Environment, Developing Community Planning Strategies that will aid communities plan for Climate Change.

3. Forestry (TBC)

4. Don Jardine - An evening tour to show the effects of climate change on PEI.

Wednesday 15th

1. Beate Bowron and Greg Davidson – Community Toolkit, Community Planning.

2. Don Jardine – Discuss coastal, erosion, sea level rise, salt water intrusion and other issues.

3. Michael Cox and Real Diagle – Mapping and regional issues.

4. Martin Milne (TBC) – Effects of climate change to traditional use of Mother Earth.

5. Chief Akagi – Indigenous Knowledge of adaptation planning.

6. David Lapp – Assessing how climate change will impact infrastructure.
Thursday 16th

Building an Adaptation Plan identifying through a “Risk Assessment” the issues, prioritizing, discussion of solutions and community planning strategies.

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