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Where We Are in Our Relationship Building Journey with Indigenous Communities

All relationships founded on trustworthiness, integrity and kindness tend to sustain in the long term. At the Biosphere, that is our goal: we want longstanding relationships with Indigenous Nations so we can care for the land and each other. However, building these relationships will take time. As a way of introducing ourselves, we are presently in the beginning stages of projects that promote (re)connecting Indigenous peoples with the Beaver Hills including:

Indigenous protected and conserved area

The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) received a grant to develop an Indigenous protected and conserved area (IPCA) to practice Métis conservation. We’re exploring the possibility of having an IPCA within or adjacent to the Biosphere as well as supporting Métis connections with the land. These strategies help build climate change resilience through wetland maintenance, advancing biodiversity and sustainability.

Human wildlife coexistence

We sought input from diverse stakeholders including Indigenous peoples who spend time in the Beaver Hills on how to live harmoniously with wildlife. Listening to unique perspectives of Indigenous participants gave us some insight into how we can support co-existence with the land. This information will provide continued opportunities for Indigenous peoples to plan future steps for the Biosphere. Learn more.

Land access safety

Because of some violent acts toward Indigenous peoples in rural Canada, some Indigenous peoples are hesitant to visit areas in the Biosphere. While we are not a legal entity, it is our priority that everyone has access to educational, cultural and environmental sustainability in the biosphere. We have connected with the Treaty Land Sharing Network in Saskatchewan to advocate for an Alberta chapter helping to create ethical relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous landowners.

Applied research projects

In partnership with scholars from the University of Alberta (U of A), the BHB received MITACS grants to complete work within the Biosphere supported by graduate students whose research interests aligns with the work of the biosphere. Three of these projects have been completed to date:

  • Communicating the impacts of climate change
  • Identifying connections between people and place
  • Understanding and enhancing inter-agency collaboration

Each of these projects provide insights for BHB to understand how people engage with the biosphere. We can then use this information to identify any gaps unique to Indigenous communities and expand to future applied research projects with Indigenous scholars and students. Learn more about these and other projects completed and underway in the Biosphere.

Visual virtual user experiences

Videographer Dylan Reade is producing video vignettes on the History of Beaver Hills’ Indigenous presence with the support of Matt Hiltermann, Métis historian. These short and informative videos help viewers understand the nuanced cultural history of the landscape and how it has shaped our contemporary realities in the Beaver Hills. Check out our vignettes more are on the way.

Indigenous summer book club

This summer, our Indigenous engagement coordinator, Bob Montgomery, launched the Biosphere’s inaugural book club with Braiding Sweetgrass by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer (2015). This book describes the connections between Indigenous knowledges of plants and Western scientific knowledge. Participants read the book in five sections and met every three weeks to discuss how this may advance their personal and professional connections to Indigenous ecological wisdom.

For more information and to connect with Indigenous engagement efforts underway in the Biosphere, contact Bob Montgomery, Indigenous Engagement Coordinator.