Honouring the Graduates of the 2015 Environmental Monitoring Technician Training Program
Fifteen Aboriginal trainees from eight First Nation and Métis communities successfully completed the five-week Environmental Monitoring Technician Program Pilot co-funded by AEMERA (now the Environmental Monitoring and Science Division) and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF). The group celebrated their program completion with a graduation ceremony at AITF auditorium on Monday, February 29 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Elsie Yanik, a 99 year-old Metis Elder, offered an invocation at the beginning of the ceremony. Well-respected for preserving Indigenous heritage and promoting health and education in her community, Elsie expressed tremendous pride of seeing community members graduating from the program with enhanced capacity in protecting the land.
Stephen Lougheed, President and CEO of AITF, opened the graduation ceremony with welcome remarks and then invited Jay Nagendran to speak about environmental monitoring and Aboriginal initiatives. AITF program lead, Dr. Shauna-Lee Chai, together with Carter Yellow-bird, provided an overview of the training program. Mike Beaver, Elder from Bigstone Cree Nation, also a Board member of AEMERA, closed off the official remarks by giving a keynote speech on the importance of empowering people to save Mother Earth collaboratively.
Dancing, drumming and singing performances were presented by the Samson Cree Nation community group. Everyone was invited to join a round dance to honor the trainees’ achievements and to celebrate the gathering.
The five-week program courses have been designed to fill in the gaps in existing training programs, and to meet the monitoring interests and needs of Aboriginal communities. The pilot program focused on safety, surface water quality monitoring and wildlife monitoring. Graduation from the program is a great success for these students and their communities as the training they’ve received will increase Aboriginal participation in environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
“One of our key objectives is to braid Indigenous Knowledge into environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities throughout the province,” said Chief Monitoring Officer Bill Donahue. “The Aboriginal training pilot provided community members with enhanced technical skills that will enable them to actively participate in local, community-based monitoring going forward. We are very excited to have our first group of students graduating from the program.”
These students are ambassadors and champions as we move forward in our science, monitoring and community engagement activities. Congratulations to all the students!