Isi Askiwan–The State of the Land: Summary of the Prince Albert Grand Council Elders’ Forum on Climate Change

// // Posted in Vol 2 Issue 1

Willie Ermine, MEd, Ethicist/Researcher, Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre, First Nations University of Canada

Ralph Nilson, PhD, Director, Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre, First Nations University of Canada

David Sauchyn, PhD, Research Co-ordinator, Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, University of Regina

Ernest Sauve, Director of Health and Social Development, Prince Albert Grand Council

Robin Yvonne Smith, MA, Community Research Facilitator, Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre, First Nations University of Canada

Abstract

First Nations perspectives about the natural world can enhance western scientific research and understanding of the impacts of climate change on quality of life and community health. The Elders bring the collective wisdom of countless generations living in particular geographic locations, adding considerable depth to the view of climate change and human adaptation. Elders and other First Nations knowledge holders from the Prince Albert Grand Council area in Saskatchewan came together to discuss the impacts of climate change on population health within their traditional territories. This knowledge was shared within the context of an Elders’ forum, organized by the Prince Albert Grand Council Department of Health and Social Development, the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre of the First Nations University of Canada, and the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative. The primary objective in hosting this event was to create an open forum based on respectful learning and traditional protocols in which Elders could share information about climate change with one another and with members of the scientific community. This paper highlights the Elders’ forum as a culturally-appropriate method for knowledge sharing and transfer. The paper describes the unique perspectives offered by the Elders. Some of the major themes that emerged from the forum are discussed, notably the important connection that the Elders made between the state of the natural and social environments in their home communities. This information is placed within the broader context of the growing literature on traditional environmental knowledge.

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