Back to top

Indigenous Knowledge in Natural Infrastructure

Project image

Natural infrastructure bioswale, North Design Office Inc. Photograph by Alissa North.

The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) has partnered with the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Toronto to understand how Indigenous Knowledge can contribute to the construction of natural infrastructure projects in the south Lake Winnipeg Basin.

Our team is looking to understand and apply traditional ways of knowing the landscape in conjunction with Western science approaches toward a new path of environmental healing.

The purpose of natural infrastructure is to restore and protect the environment through natural processes; for example, by planting vegetation to clean the water and air. Natural infrastructure projects will be most effective if they are based on the knowledge of those who know the land best. We are seeking participation from your community in Knowledge Circles (virtual workshops) to exchange ideas and share perspectives that could inform future natural infrastructure projects.

After the Knowledge Circle workshops, participants will be invited to review our outcomes and provide further insights via a follow-up survey. This will help ensure that the gathered information accurately reflects the values of your community.

If you would like to participate in a Knowledge Circle, please read the FAQ section and register at the appropriate link below, based on your First Nation Community. All participants are being asked to:

  • Participate in a two-hour Knowledge Circle via Zoom on May 19, from either 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., depending on your community (see lists below)
  • Complete a follow-up survey after the Knowledge Circle

Each participant will be provided with $50 for participating in the Knowledge Circle and entered to win a $250 prize for completing the survey. If you have additional questions, please read the FAQ below, or email Richard Farthing-Nichol at rfarthing-nichol@yourcier.org.

Register here for May 19, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., if your First Nation Community is:

  • Canupawakpa Dakota Nation
  • Dakota Plains Wahpeton First Nation
  • Dakota Tipi First Nation
  • Gambler First Nation
  • Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation
  • Long Plain First Nation
  • Pine Creek First Nation
  • Rolling River First Nation
  • Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation
  • Swan Lake First Nation

Register here for May 19, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., if your First Nation Community is:

  • Black River First Nation
  • Brokenhead Ojibway Nation
  • Ebb and Flow First Nation
  • Fisher River Cree Nation
  • Hollow Water First Nation
  • Lake Manitoba First Nation
  • Peguis First Nation
  • Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation
  • Sagkeeng First Nation
  • Skownan First Nation

FAQ

REGISTERING

When will the Knowledge Circles take place?
May 19, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. CDT.

How will the Knowledge Circles be held?

The Knowledge Circles will be held online via Zoom.

How do I sign up to participate in a Knowledge Circle?

To sign up, please go to the links above, and click on the link related to your First Nation Community.

Can children participate?

No, participants must be 18 years of age or older.



What if I don’t currently live in my community, but wish to participate?

You may participate even if you do not currently live in your community, but knowledge of your community is necessary for participation.

Will my time be compensated?
Workshop participants will be provided with $50 for their time (provided by cheque via mail). Only those participants still in attendance at the end of the Knowledge Circles session will be eligible for compensation.
A $250 raffle prize (e-gift card) will be randomly awarded to two participants who complete the survey.

How will the participation cheque be sent to me?

Participation cheques will be sent by regular mail. Upon registration, participants will be asked to provide their name and mailing address.

What if I start participation in a Knowledge Circle or a survey but I am unable to complete the session?

You may refuse to answer questions and can withdraw from the workshop at any time. However, participation fees will only be provided for those that participate in the full duration of the workshop.

As a follow-up to the workshop, participants will be asked to fill out a separate survey. By participating in the survey, you will be providing your consent that the results will be publicly shared. If you do not wish for your contributions to be shared, you can decide to not start, or not complete the survey. However, only participants that complete the survey will be added to the draw for the e-gift card.

When will I be notified of my confirmed participation in a Knowledge Circle?

Your participation in a workshop will be confirmed immediately upon online registration if you are one of the first three participants to sign up from your community. If three people from your community have already registered, you will be placed on a waiting list. Once on the waiting list, we will contact you one week prior to the event if we are looking for more participants.

 

THE KNOWLEDGE CIRCLES: WHAT TO EXPECT

What will happen at the Knowledge Circles? 

The Knowledge Circles will include a brief introduction to natural infrastructure, followed by discussion questions, interactive surveys, small group discussions, and mapping exercises.

Do I need to have prior knowledge of natural infrastructure?

No prior knowledge of natural infrastructure is required for participation, but participants should be familiar with their Nation’s territory.

Who will be at the Knowledge Circles, and how many participants will there be?

There will be two online Knowledge Circles—each one will have participants from 10 communities in the same region. Each Knowledge Circle will have approximately 30 participants.

Will my contributions be publicly recognized?

You will be asked during registration if you would like to have your contributions publicly recognized. If you decline, your contributions will remain anonymous. If you accept, your name will be listed in the dissemination document, as public recognition of your contribution to the content of the document.

Will the Zoom sessions be recorded?

The Knowledge Circles will be recorded as reference material for documentation and information sharing, but they will not be shared publicly. Following each Knowledge Circle, we will transcribe discussions and delete the recordings. All collected information will remain anonymous unless the participant chooses to be publicly acknowledged.

Who is being asked to participate, and when?
The First Nation Communities that are being invited to participate on May 19, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. are:

  • Canupawakpa Dakota Nation
  • Dakota Plains Wahpeton First Nation
  • Dakota Tipi First Nation
  • Gambler First Nation
  • Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation
  • Long Plain First Nation
  • Pine Creek First Nation
  • Rolling River First Nation
  • Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation
  • Swan Lake First Nation

The First Nation Communities that are being invited to participate on May 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. are:

  • Black River First Nation
  • Brokenhead Ojibway Nation
  • Ebb and Flow First Nation
  • Fisher River Cree Nation
  • Hollow Water First Nation
  • Lake Manitoba First Nation
  • Peguis First Nation
  • Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation
  • Sagkeeng First Nation
  • Skownan First Nation

Who are the people running the Knowledge Circles and gathering the Survey information?

The team involved in this project includes: Richard Farthing-Nichol, Project Manager at CIER; Shianne McKay, Pine Creek First Nation, Treaty 1 Territory, Senior Project Manager at CIER; Alissa North, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Toronto; Emiley Switzer-Martell, Master of Landscape Architecture Research Assistant, University of Toronto; and Benson Zhou, Master of Landscape Architecture Research Assistant.


 

USE OF INFORMATION

How will the information from the workshop be used and/or shared?
The sessions will be recorded as reference material for research documentation and dissemination, with participants being credited for their input, should they wish to be acknowledged for their sharing. Otherwise, all collected information will remain anonymous, and once points have been documented from the recordings, the recordings will be deleted.

What are the potential benefits of my participation?

The potential impacts and benefits of participating in the Knowledge Circles and Survey may include: a better personal understanding of natural infrastructure; contributing to a model for integrating Indigenous and western natural infrastructure approaches; the development of a model for a regional scale natural infrastructure co-operative approach; and respect and promotion of Indigenous knowledge as a form of reconciliation, through global environmental benefit.

What are the potential risks of my participation?

Risks might include being uncomfortable with the discussions, or with the people in attendance. Physical risks might include sitting at a computer for too long. In the event of harm, participants have not waived their legal rights.

What will happen after the Knowledge Circles?

An electronic, question-based survey will follow the Knowledge Circles, and will be distributed to all workshop participants. It is not a requirement to participate in the Survey, but only survey participants will be added to the draw.

Who will have access to the Knowledge Circles and Survey data?

Only the team members listed above will have access to primary information/data. All information/data will be stored on encrypted password-protected computers.

How will my participation data be held?

Individual data will not be retained. Only aggregated results will be kept, and will be made public via dissemination documents.

How will the knowledge I share be used?

Shared knowledge will be used to inform natural infrastructure approaches in the south Lake Winnipeg Basin. This natural infrastructure approach, guided by co-operative approaches between Indigenous Knowledge and Western science, aims to restore and protect the environment across the region.

 

OTHER QUESTIONS

Who is supporting this work?

This work has been supported by a grant from the University of Toronto, Connaught Fund, Community Partnership Research Program, Indigenous Stream, and the University of Toronto Work Study Program, and in-kind donations from CIER and the Daniels Faculty.

Who should I contact if I have questions about human research ethics?

Participants can contact the Research Oversight and Compliance Office, Human Research Ethics Program at ethics.review@utoronto.ca or 1-416-946-3273 at the University of Toronto, if you have questions about your rights as a participant. The research ethics program may have confidential access to data, to help ensure participant protection procedures are followed.

Who should I contact if I have questions about this initiative or my participation?

Please contact Richard Farthing-Nichol at rfarthing-nichol@yourcier.org.