Sowing a way towards revitalizing Indigenous agriculture: creating meaning from a forum discussion in Saskatchewan, Canada
Melissa M. Arcand,
Dale F. Worme,
Anthony Blair Dreaver Johnston,
Sheldon M. Wuttunee,
FACETS, Volume 5, Issue 1
Agriculture is practiced on 3–4 million acres of First Nations reserve lands in the Saskatchewan Prairies—predominantly by non-Indigenous farmers. A confluence of factors including an increase in agricultural land holdings on reserve and greater autonomy in land management have renewed conversations on how First Nations can realize the full economic benefits and exert greater control over agricultural activities that affect the reserve land base. We hosted a Forum on Indigenous Agriculture to share current knowledge on the contemporary status of Indigenous agriculture and to co-formulate research, capacity building, and policy priorities. First Nations’ roles in agriculture are diverse and were categorized in three broad contexts: as farmers, relying on traditional Indigenous or western practice, or a synergy of both; as landlords negotiating lease agreements; and as agribusiness entrepreneurs. Five themes emerged from the forum: centring Indigenous knowledge and traditional relationships to the land, capacity building, building respectful partnerships and relationships, financing farming and equitable economies, and translating research to policy and legislation. The forum provided foundational data to inform research and capacity building to meet community-defined goals in agriculture on reserve lands and by First Nations people.
There is growing interest to develop processes for creating user-informed watershed scale models of hydrology and water quality and to assist in decision-making for balanced policies for managing watersheds. Watershed models can be enhanced with the incorporation of social dimensions of watershed management as brought forward by participants such as the perspectives, values, and norms of people that depend on the land, water, and ecosystems for sustenance, economies, and overall wellbeing. In this work, we explore the value of combining both qualitative and quantitative methods and social science data to enhance salience and legitimacy of watershed models so that end-users are more engaged. We discuss pilot testing and engagement workshops for building and testing a systems dynamics model of the Qu'Appelle Valley to gather insights from local farmers and understand their perceptions of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs). Mixed-method workshops with agricultural producers in the Qu'Appelle Watershed gathered feedback on the developing model and the incorporation of social determinants affecting decision-making. Analysis of focus groups and factor analysis of Q-sorts were used to identify the desired components of the model, and whether it supported farmers' understanding of the potential effects of BMPs on water quality. We explored farmers' engagement with models testing BMPs and the potential of incorporating their decision processes within the model itself. Finally, we discuss the reception of the process and the practicality of the approach in providing legitimate and credible decision support tools for a community of farmers.
Extensive land use changes and uncertainties arising from climate change in recent years have contributed to increased flood magnitudes in the Canadian Prairies and threatened the vulnerabilities of many small and indigenous communities. There is, thus, a need to create modernized flood risk management tools to support small and rural communities’ preparations for future extreme events. In this study, we developed spatial flood information for an indigenous community in Central Saskatchewan using LiDAR based DEM and a spatial modeling tool, the wetland DEM ponding model (WDPM). A crucial element of flood mapping in this study was community engagement in data collection, scenario description for WDPM, and flood map validation. Community feedback was also used to evaluate the utility of the modelled flood outputs. The results showed the accuracy of WDPM outputs could be improved not only with the quality of DEM but also with additional community-held information on contributing areas (watershed information). Based on community feedback, this accessible, spatially-focused modeling approach can provide relevant information for community spatial planning and developing risk management strategies. Our study found community engagement to be valuable in flood modeling and mapping by: providing necessary data, validating input data through lived experiences, and providing alternate scenarios to be used in future work. This research demonstrates the suitability and utility of LiDAR and WDPM complemented by community participation for improving flood mapping in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). The approach used in the study also serves as an important guide for applying transdisciplinary tools and methods for establishing good practice in research and helping build resilient communities in the Prairies.
Water quality is increasingly at risk due to nutrient pollution entering river systems from cities, industrial zones and agricultural areas. Agricultural activities are typically the largest non-point source of water pollution. The dynamics of agricultural impacts on water quality are complex and stem from the decisions and activities of multiple stakeholders, often with diverse business plans, values, and attitudes towards practices that can improve water quality. This study proposes a framework to understand and incorporate stakeholders' viewpoints into water quality modeling and management. The framework was applied to the Qu'Appelle River Basin, Saskatchewan, Canada. Q-methodology was used to understand viewpoints of stakeholders, namely agricultural producers (annual croppers, cattle producers, mixed farmers) and cottage owners, regarding a range of agricultural Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that can improve water quality, and to identify their preferred BMPs. A System Dynamics (SD) approach was employed to develop a transparent and user-friendly water quality model, SD-Qu'Appelle, to simulate nutrient loads in the region before and after implementation of stakeholder identified BMPs. The SD-Qu'Appelle was used in real-time engagement of stakeholders in model simulations to demonstrate and explore the potential effects of different BMPs in mitigating water pollution. Stakeholder perspectives were explored to understand the functionality and value of the SD-Qu'Appelle, preferred policies and potential barriers to BMP implementation on their land. Results show that although there are differences between viewpoints of stakeholders, they identified wetland restoration/retention, flow and erosion control, and relocation of corrals near creeks to sites more distant from waterways as the most effective BMPs for improving water quality. Economics was identified as a primary factor that causes agricultural producers to either accept or refuse the implementation of BMPs. Agricultural producers believe that incentives rather than regulations are the best policies for increasing the adoption of BMPs. Overall, stakeholders indicated the SD-Qu'Appelle had considerable value for water quality management and provided a set of recommendations to improve the model.
There is movement in engineering fields and in Indigenous communities for enhancement of local participation in the design of community infrastructure. Inclusion of community priorities and unique cultural, spiritual, and traditional values harmonize the appearance, location, and functionality of developments with the social and cultural context in which they are built and contribute to holistic wellness. However, co-design processes that align community values and the technical needs of water facilities are difficult to find. A scoping review was conducted to explore the state of knowledge on co-design of water infrastructure in Indigenous Canada to build a knowledge base from which practices and processes could emerge. The scoping results revealed that articles and reports emerged only in recent years, contained case studies and meta-reviews with primary (qualitative) data, and involved community members in various capacities. Overall, 13 articles were reviewed that contributed to understanding co-design for water infrastructure in Indigenous Canada. Barriers to co-design included funding models for Indigenous community infrastructure, difficulties in engineers and designers understanding Indigenous worldviews and paradigms, and a lack of cooperation among stakeholders that contribute to ongoing design failures. A working definition of co-design for Indigenous water infrastructure is presented.
Prairie water: a global water futures project to enhance the resilience of prairie communities through sustainable water management
Jared D. Wolfe,
Colin J. Whitfield,
Helen M. Baulch,
N. B. Basu,
Robert G. Clark,
Christy A. Morrissey,
John W. Pomeroy,
Maureen G. Reed,
Canadian Water Resources Journal / Revue canadienne des ressources hydriques, Volume 44, Issue 2
‘I would walk to the end of the street and out over the prairie with the clickety grasshoppers bunging in arcs ahead of me and I could hear the hum and twang of the wind in the great prairie harp o...
Cities are under pressure to operate their services effectively and project costs of operations across various timeframes. In high-latitude and high-altitude urban centers, snow management is one of the larger unknowns and has both operational and budgetary limitations. Snowfall and snow depth observations within urban environments are important to plan snow clearing and prepare for the effects of spring runoff on cities’ drainage systems. In-house research functions are expensive, but one way to overcome that expense and still produce effective data is through citizen science. In this paper, we examine the potential to use citizen science for snowfall data collection in urban environments. A group of volunteers measured daily snowfall and snow depth at an urban site in Saskatoon (Canada) during two winters. Reliability was assessed with a statistical consistency analysis and a comparison with other data sets collected around Saskatoon. We found that citizen-science-derived data were more reliable and relevant for many urban management stakeholders. Feedback from the participants demonstrated reflexivity about social learning and a renewed sense of community built around generating reliable and useful data. We conclude that citizen science holds great potential to improve data provision for effective and sustainable city planning and greater social learning benefits overall.