Social services - IISD - Building relationships that protect the land and water - image

Social services

Preserving our land and water by building meaningful relationships

Jan 4, 2022

Many countries are struggling to respond to challenges to their freshwater supplies from growing populations and rapid climate change. In Canada, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) works to protect these ecosystems and the people who live in them through inclusive and robust nature-based solutions.

One of the IISD’s long-term research initiatives is the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a natural freshwater research laboratory of 58 small lakes and their watersheds in Northwestern Ontario’s Kenora District. For over five decades, the ELA has been one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities, conducting experiments on a growing list of threats to freshwater supplies.

Partnering with First Nations

Part of the IISD-ELA’s mandate is building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities like Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation to help protect and preserve the environment through the lenses of both Indigenous knowledge and environmental science.

“Being stationed in Treaty 3 traditional land has given us a unique opportunity to work with local Indigenous communities like Sagkeeng First Nation to learn and share knowledge,” explains IISD-ELA outreach officer Dilber Yunus.

With the assistance of a $16,000 grant from the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, Yunus and her team created a steering committee to help guide Sagkeeng First Nation Elders, youth, healthcare givers and educators toward a common project goal of enhancing the Winnipeg river base area. 

“Our paths have converged, and now we have to walk together,” says Sagkeeng project lead Lyle Morrisseau.

This programming has allowed the Sagkeeng youth and elders to connect directly with researchers on this critical topic and develop a shared understanding of this vital ecosystem's challenges. 

“Living well is about keeping good relations with Mother Earth and all living things because we are all connected,” says IISD-ELA outreach assistant Payton Morrisseau.

With the Foundation’s support, the partnership between Sagkeeng First Nation and the IISD Experimental Lakes Area fosters this fundamental connection.

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