A message from Maery Kaplan-Hallam, Climate Change and Health Adaptation Specialist and Emma Scott, Environmental Program Officer with Environmental Public Health Services.
This June, FNHA’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation Specialist and Environmental Health Program Officer joined the project team from Tla’amin Nation for a shoreline tour. The trip is part of a climate change project they are undertaking with support from FNHA’s Indigenous Climate Health Action Program (ICHAP).
The project team, led by Tla’amin Nation staff and supported by Dr. Bob Patrick from the University of Saskatchewan, is conducting a climate-health assessment to identify priority risks to community health and wellness and develop an adaptation plan to respond to current and future impacts.
The group spent a day on the Salish Sea around Harwood Island, looking for signs of coastal erosion and sedimentation, and discussing various changes in vegetation being noted by a Tla’amin knowledge keeper. Engaging with the community and drawing upon their shared wisdom has been an important part of this project.
The trip included capturing footage to be part of an educational documentary by Quinn Barabash (Skeena Media) as well as a virtual reality media experience to enable community members to experience parts of their territory that are otherwise less accessible.
There is a particular focus on bringing youth into the conversations about changes on the land and actions that can be taken. In just the first few months of the project Tla’amin youth have participated in climate change workshops and taken trips into the territory to conduct tours and set up climate monitoring stations.
The coastal shoreline tour with the Tla’amin Guardians, who monitor and protect the land, resources, and water across the territory, generated discussions around rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and increased potential for wildfires that threaten not only the natural environment, but also culturally significant sites and people. Climate change introduces new challenges that will test community resiliency.
The project team has a busy schedule lies ahead for the remainder of summer and fall, including additional community workshops, information sessions, and land-based tours.
You can learn more about how Environmental Public Health Services is working with communities to address climate change here: Indigenous Climate Health Action Program Webpage