The Piikani Nation is a small First Nation community on a reserve that was established by virtue of Treaty 7 in Canada. Risks associated with climate change such as increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, flooding and drought, have already emerged as serious threats to the Piikani people who are geographically and culturally isolated through the drawing of the US/Canada Border.
Now more than ever Blackfoot knowledge and perspectives are needed to address the wicked challenges brought by climate change. TRI and Piikani Nation community experts, elders, teachers, and students are engaged in a multi-year initiative to develop climate resilience through a number of co-created activities. These holistic approaches to climate adaptation are creating reciprocal learning between Indigenous and scientific / technical experts and momentum for transdisciplinary climate action.
Key activities of the multi-year initiative continue to evolve and adhere to the Free, Prior and Informed Consent ethical guidelines for collaborating with Indigenous Peoples. Examples include:
- A comprehensive Greenhouse Program lead by the Sūṗii⸱ṗo’omaaksinteam which consists of knowledge holders from Piikani Lands, Peigan Board of Education and TRI. Loosely translated from Blackfoot to English Sūṗii⸱ṗo’omaaksin means in the spirit of planting seeds. By utilizing both traditional knowledge and good practices in scientific/technical knowledge, the program is developing local food and energy security through the implementation of renewable energy, the reclamation of land, and growing healthy food and traditional plants. Partners include researchers from the Arctic Institute of North America who are sharing good practices in green house design and development from Northern Indigenous communities.
- Stories of Resilience from the Piikani Nation highlight the individual and community attributes that make communities resilient when disaster strikes. The initiative is bringing community members together through written and visual storytelling to inspire conversation about what it means to be resilient. Stories of Resilience is a a signature program of the Resilience Institute that brings community together in dialogue & creativity on climate change.
- The Air we Breathe – traditional and scientific understanding of air quality and strategies for staying healthy in new climate scenarios is creating practical way for weaving Blackfoot ways of knowing with scientific / technical knowledge on climate change adaptation and health impacts, specifically on understanding the relationship between air quality, and health. Students from the High School will directly be engaged in learning how to monitor air quality from a technical/scientific perspective while at the same time learning how to interview elders and other members of the community on their experience and observations. This might include recording how people experience the air, and changes they witness in animals, plants, and birds. At the end of the monitoring periods, students will compare findings from scientific and Blackfoot monitoring efforts.
- Youth-Led Local Early Action Plan created hands-on opportunities for Piikaniyouth to learn about climate change and how to engage/interview community members. Interviews were conducted over the summer to collect feedback on community observations and ideas for resilience building. The LEAP findings are helping to generate a portfolio of strategies and actions to better manage the priority threats with a list of immediate strategies and actions to be considered for implementation.