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Willie Ermine, Ralph Nilson, Dave Sauchyn, Ernest Sauve, Robin Yvonne Smith


This report provides an overview of the findings from the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative project, Isi Askiwan – The State of the Land: Prince Albert Grand Council Elders Forum on Climate Change. First Nations perspectives about the natural world can enhance western scientific research and understanding of the impacts of climate change on quality of life and community health. Elders and other First Nations knowledge holders from the Prince Albert Grand Council area in Saskatchewan came together to discuss the impacts of climate change on population health within their traditional territories. The Elders’ forum was based on respectful learning and traditional protocols in which Elders could share information about climate change with one another and with members of the scientific community. Three basic objectives guided the Elders’ discussion: To identify what has been experienced or observed by the Elders in regards to climate change; to identify the impacts of these changes on the health and quality of life of Aboriginal communities; and for the Elders to communicate the capacity of communities in adapting to these changes, both in the past and in the future. Elder responses to this issue are identified and discussed in this report, along with a number of broad themes such as the connection between the natural and social environment, and the conciliation of Elder knowledge and western scientific perspectives on climate change. This information is placed within the broader context of the growing literature on traditional environmental knowledge. To date, discussions of this kind have been dominated by western science. By engaging in these issues, Aboriginal communities, under the leadership of Elders, have the opportunity to contribute knowledge to the broader Canadian society concerning alternative approaches to climate change,and in particular to the relationship between health and the natural environment.