Seven Indigenous industry experts will now be advising Alberta’s Chief Scientist on how to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into environmental monitoring.
The Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel, the first legislated advisory body of its kind in Canada, was officially announced during a signing at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre Wednesday morning.
The panel will meet twice a year with Chief Scientist Fred Wrona to discuss how to improve approaches to applying indigenous wisdom in environmental monitoring.
Director of Industry Relations of Mikisew Cree First Nations and Panel member Melody Lepine says all Indigenous communities are directly and adversely affected by oilsands development.
“Stewardship of our traditional lands has been an honorable activity of our Indigenous communities for hundreds of years. We never called it monitoring, it was just naturally a part of our coexistence with our natural mother earth.”
Creating this panel has been in the works since last spring when the provincial government brought back Alberta’s Environmental Monitoring Agency to ensure monitoring would be more rigorous, independent, and transparent.
The panel members include:
- Leroy Little Bear – Elder and senior adviser to the president, Aboriginal Initiatives, University of Lethbridge
- Elmer Ghostkeeper – Elder and council member, Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement
- Henry Lickers – Elder and environmental science officer, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
- Harley Bastien – president, Harmony Walkers, Inc.
- Reg Crowshoe – Piikani First Nation Elder and professor of Indigenous Studies, University of Calgary
- Melody Lepine – director, Mikisew Cree First Nations, Industry Relations
- Wilton Littlechild – Grand Chief of Treaty 6 and lawyer, commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada