Building Climate change resilience through knowledge co-creation between Indigenous and scientific knowledge holders.

Collaborative Sessions at the 2018 IPPC Cities Conference, Edmonton, Alberta. 



Laura Lynes, President of the Board
The Rockies Institute


Gleb Raygorodetsky, Executive Director
Environmental Monitoring and Science Division, Alberta Environment and Parks

The impacts of climate change pose a significant challenge to Indigenous peoples all over the world because of their strong dependence on their traditional territories for physical, cultural and spiritual wellbeing, and due to the socio-economic and political contexts in which they live.

The Environmental Monitoring and Science Division (EMSD) of Alberta Environment and Parks and The Rockies Institute (TRI), a charitable organization dedicated to climate change education and research, are collaborating on a series of sessions to highlight how Indigenous knowledge could inform decision making on climate change as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Cities Conference in Edmonton.

Together with their local Indigenous partners and global south experts, TRI and EMSD have co-created two sessions: A Village of Hope: Transformative Change Infused by Indigenous Views, Sunday March 4, 2018 and Multiple Evidence Based Approach to Knowledge Co-Production to Inform Decision-making, Monday, March 5, 2018.



During these collaborative sessions Indigenous knowledge holders (including youth and Elders), their allies, and IPCC experts, will share their understanding of climate change and its consequences for Indigenous urban and rural populations, as well as explore approaches to developing adaptation solutions to increase Indigenous communities’ climate change resilience.

The overall aim of the sessions is to create a welcoming space for Indigenous knowledge holders to share their stories and views with the scientific community that in turn will:

  1. Provide inspiration to conference attendees, particularly in viewing climate challenges differently;
  2. Inspire a process for knowledge exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge holders that could be replicated in future IPCC meetings; and
  3. Ignite interest in Indigenous knowledge holders, including youth, to spur climate change action in their urban and rural environments.



  1. Village of Hope: Transformative Change Infused by Indigenous Views
  • Sunday, March 4th2018
  • 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM
  • Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton – Riverview Room


Our afternoon will begin with an Elder’s prayer from Treaty 6, First Nations drumming, three back-to-back dialogues in Sharing Circle format, and an opportunity for one-on-one and small group dialogue between attendees and speakers over traditional food. Immediately following the last Sharing Circle, Elders from Metis, Cree and Blackfoot Nations will be invited to share their reflections.

The unique format of our day invites attendees to consider non-western constructs of time by having a proposed start time and end time, and roster of discussion topics. Giving panel members the flexibility to share their stories without a hard start and stop time invites a traditional process for knowledge sharing into the space. Ending the group discussions with the opportunity to visit with one another while sampling foods with traditional Indigenous roots acknowledges the important role that food plays in Indigenous culture and the role it can plav in uniting people from all backgrounds and creates a unique opportunity for IPCC conference attendees and Indigenous knowledge holders to engage in dialogue.


Sharing Circle 1:  How We View the Climate Crises – Building Bridges between Knowledge Holders – a case example and the Blackfoot perspective

This Sharing Circles will explore social, cultural and environmental dimensions of the importance of urban-rural linkages for greater climate change resilience in Indigenous communities.

  • Diandra Bruised Head, Climate Change Coordinator, Kainai First Nation
  • Laura Lynes, The Rockies Institute Board President and co-creator of the Building Climate Resilience and Adaptation in the Kainai First Nation project
  • Kansie Fox, Environmental Protection Manager, Blood Tribe Land Management
  • Leroy Little Bear, Kainai First Nation Elder and Senior Advisor to President, Aboriginal Initiatives, Government of Alberta


Sharing Circle 2: Global North and South Indigenous Knowledge Sharing – Operationalizing the process, a case example from South Africa and Canada

An example of trans-national and trans-agency collaboration paving the way for climate solutions in vulnerable communities. Social learning taken further towards implementation (not just a deeper understanding about issues) and basing understanding on both Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge as part of the process to assist in adaptation.

  • Karl Van Orsdol, Senior Climate Change Fellow, The Rockies Institute
  • Igshaan Samuels, Agricultural Research Council (ARC), South Africa
  • Mmoto Masubelele, South African National Parks


Sharing Circle 3: Indigenous Urban-rural Relationships as a Component of Climate Change Resilience

This Sharing Circles will explore social, cultural and environmental dimensions of the importance of urban-rural linkages for greater climate change resilience in Indigenous communities.

  • Tirso Gonzales: Associate Researcher at Pontificia Universidad Católica Peru
  • Walter Andreeff: Director of the Canadian Solar Cities Project, Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 5
  • Andres Filella, Manager, Climate Leadership, Métis Nation of Alberta
  • Kansie Fox: Environmental Protection Manager, Blood Tribe Land Management


  1. Multiple Evidence Based Approach to Knowledge Co-Production to Inform Decision-making
  • Monday, March 5th2018
  • 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
  • Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton – Part of the IPCC Cities Conference. Room TBC.

Panelists will explore the challenges, opportunities, and best practices of braiding Indigenous and scientific knowledge systems to inform climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and programs, particularly as they relate to enhancing resilience of the interdependent urban and rural Indigenous populations.



This collaboration has both global and local relevance. From a global perspective it could provide a replicable process for engaging Indigenous peoples in meaningful ways such as through the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform for knowledge sharing under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. Finding pathways for meaningful Indigenous engagement will also strengthen the IPCC’s contribution to 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in cities globally, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda.

Locally, the combined sessions have great potential to further advance meaningful engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge holders and to inform the Multiple Evidence Based approach to braiding Indigenous and scientific knowledge systems to inform decision-making, including the new Indigenous Climate Change Observation Network (ICCON) that is being established in Alberta. Remoteness, poverty, and a lack of adequate infrastructure make Alberta’s Indigenous communities more sensitive to the impacts climate change, such as increased frequency and intensity of wildfires and flooding, water shortages, changes in forestry, tourism, mining, energy, and agriculture sectors.



A charitable organization dedicated to climate change education and research and a recognized observer organization with the UNFCCC, members of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth Initiative (SDSN Youth), the Canadian Mountain Network, Climate Knowledge Brokers (CKB), and the United Nations Food & Agricultural Division Mountain Partnership.


Twitter: @TRIinitiative



EMSD is responsible for monitoring, evaluating and reporting on key air, water, land and biodiversity indicators in Alberta. The division’s mandate is to provide open and transparent access to scientific data and information on the condition of Alberta’s environment, including specific indicators as well as cumulative effects, both provincially and in specific locations. EMSD respects and incorporates community and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) from First Nations and Métis people.


Twitter: @envmonitoringAB; @AB_Enviro


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