A key commitment within the Prairie Resilience strategy is to “maintain and enhance partnerships with First Nations and Métis to address and adapt to a changing climate through actions that are guided by traditional ecological knowledge.” The Ministry of Environment has engaged with First Nations and Métis communities throughout the province to hear and understand Indigenous interests, values, and the climate change impacts facing their communities.
Starting in February 2018, provincial officials engaged with industry, non-governmental organizations, academics, and others to seek input on the development of specific regulatory approaches committed to in Prairie Resilience. At this time provincial officials also initiated engagement with First Nations and Métis through the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S).
This engagement with the FSIN and MN-S led the ministry to hold focused discussions with the FSIN, provincial tribal councils, and Indigenous economic development agencies in the spring and summer of 2018. This engagement was to better understand Indigenous perspectives on climate change, introduce the main features of the provincial climate change strategy, and talk about potential opportunities. The outcomes of these sessions were informative and successful and have led to further meetings and more detailed conversations with land managers and tribal councils.
In fall 2018, the ministry partnered with MN-S to engage with Métis communities throughout the province. This partnership was initiated by MN-S through its Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program. MN-S and the ministry worked together to better understand the concerns of 19 Métis communities representing all of the Métis regions in the province. Meetings were held with hundreds of Métis residents across the province. The engagement sought to understand how climate change is affecting Métis communities and how they saw these changes occurring on the land over time. The meetings were a successful starting point for building and enhancing government-MN-S relationships, understanding climate change concerns of Métis communities, and discussing opportunities.
The following themes summarize what was heard:
- Much interest, though general unfamiliarity, with the provincial climate change strategy.
- Resonance with the resiliency model, and interest in how that work could be supported by First Nations.
- Interest in an offset system, renewable energy projects, innovation and technology.
- Interest in emergency response preparedness, community resilience and adaptation.
- Concern with certain natural and physical infrastructure throughout the province including: water quality, quantity and distribution; vegetation and wildlife distribution and health; and land management.
- Optimism for improved relationships between the province and First Nations and Métis in Saskatchewan.
In February 2019, the ministry began community-level engagement with leadership, knowledge keepers, women, and youth at the 11 First Nations of the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council. Again, the purpose of the dialogue is to understand how climate change is affecting community members and to explore the opportunities the provincial strategy presents for the First Nations of File Hills Qu’Appelle.
The Government of Saskatchewan values the participation of Indigenous peoples in these climate change conversations. First Nation and Métis are keepers of deep traditional knowledge; coming together is critical in helping people and communities prepare and adapt to climate change.