Kakisa is a hub of research and a major focus of NWF. The Territory’s smallest community boasts a strong network of researchers that work to address community-defined issues related to everything from food security and waste management, to ecosystem health, water quality and forest fires. Much of the success of these collaborations is the drive and desire of Melaine Simba, the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation’s Environmental Coordinator, to address issues the community is concerned about.
“Melaine is a very important research partner” says Dr. Heidi Swanson, University of Waterloo and NWF researcher. “We could not do the work we do in the area without her commitment to the research and the role she plays as a link between researchers and the community”.
Part of Simba’s vision is not only to see research done in the region, but to also engage and involve youth in the community. “The youth are our future. We need to give them opportunities to learn about the land and how it’s changing,” Simba says.
To realize that goal, Laurier GWF Knowledge Mobilizer, Andrew Spring, who has worked on issues of climate change adaptation and food security in the community, helped the KTFN to obtain funding from the NWT On the Land Collaborative to host an On-the-Land camp for youth in the Dehcho Region this past summer. The aim of the camp was to provide an opportunity for youth to connect to the land, culture and each other. With participation from community Elders, youth learned about the land and history through storytelling around traditional place names, as well as through games and activities. There were also opportunities for participants to gain hands-on experience in research and monitoring the health of the land. Laurier graduate students, Kaitlin Kok and Michelle Malandra helped facilitate the camp and demonstrated GPS and mapping tools through activities with the youth. The camp also provided an ideal opportunity for Swanson and her field sampling crew to both engage with the community and collect samples for her NWF research.
Swanson’s team, which included Mike Low from the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM) program, worked with community members to catch fish on the lake but worked with the youth to help process the fish for research. After sampling, the youth enjoyed the fish at meals, and other fish was brought back to the community for the Elders. The youth also helped in collecting and sorting of insects. An activity that they really enjoyed. “Having researchers come and teach our youth a bit about what they do is really important. It shows the youth the importance of monitoring the land, and gives them an opportunity to get involved,” says Simba. “ I think everyone really enjoyed the camp.”