Indigenous Success Stories: Métis

March 15, 2022

Indigenous Knowledge component of the Climate Atlas of Canada

CBC – The Indigenous Knowledges component of the Climate Atlas of Canada, launched today, is the culmination of years of work by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw and the team at the University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre, in collaboration with Indigenous communities across the country. 

The newly-launched feature provides information about the impacts of climate change on 634 First Nations communities and 53 Inuit communities, while also profiling projects surrounding climate change adaptation and mitigation across the Métis homeland. The map also shares videos from Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers, centring their knowledge as a resource. It highlights projects aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Cowessess First Nation wind-solar battery storage project in Saskatchewan, and community efforts to adapt to climate change, like the the  Métis wildland firefighters

Ian Mauro, Executive Director of the Prairie Climate Centre, who is not Indigenous, said it was important for him as a geographer to help put Indigenous communities on the map — literally in some cases — and work toward reconciliation. It’s a massive contribution from Indigenous communities to all of Canada … to think about a different way of approaching this hugely complex issue that is grounded in that millennia-old yet current and modern Indigenous wisdom,” he said.

The unique approach illustrates how Western or Eurocentric climate change science and Indigenous expertise can complement one another. It’s the embodiment of a concept sometimes called two-eyed seeing, which Hetxw’ms Gyetxw describes: 

“Through one eye you’re looking at the world through the Western sciences and the other eye you’re looking through traditional knowledges … you’re taking all perspectives and you’re seeing the world as it truly is, not just in one segmented way.”

Hetxw’ms Gyetxw said Indigenous knowledge is often stereotyped as only being about the past, or relegated to topics like hunting and fishing. He hopes this new tool will help Canadians see the bigger picture.

“Indigenous knowledge encompasses everything,” he said. “It encompasses the weather, it encompasses what things are going to look like in the future. We take into account the biology, the ecology, everything about our lands.”