The goal of the Environmental Technician Training Program pilot is to enable indigenous participation in environmental monitoring in the oil sands region. “This is the second pilot we initiated for the environmental monitoring technician training. Building on last year’s success, we are keen to work with another group of dedicated individuals from the Upper Peace, North Saskatchewan, and Lower Athabasca regions in sharing information about our ambient environment, and building professional connections in oil sands monitoring,” explains program coordinator Zoey Wang. “We see the pilot as the first step in bridging the gap in communities’ technical capacity and encouraging more robust indigenous participation in oil sands monitoring, as well as an incredible opportunity to learn and listen from people on the lands.”
The program is composed of three areas: monitoring design, delivery, and evaluation and reporting. Through a combination of classroom and field courses, participants will learn:
- The basics of environmental monitoring program design;
- Surface water monitoring;
- Fish health monitoring;
- Safety training in environmental monitoring; and
- Data management tools.
“It’s a great opportunity for Aboriginal communities to work together on something common: Protecting the Mother Earth is an Indigenous common thread, something we all respect, and we all want to sustain,” says Randy Parenteau from Fishing Lake Metis Settlement – one of this year’s trainees.
Kimberly Hogan from Fort McMurray #468 First Nation is hoping to learn the various aspects of what is involved in becoming an Environmental Monitor and the importance this role plays in the developing lands that communities are situated in. “I am eager to connect with different organizations and share ideas, knowledge and stories with other individuals. I believe this course will provide an in depth look into environmental monitoring and lead me in a focused direction to understand and strive to make a difference now and for future generations.”
Throughout the program, participants will have an opportunity to meet and interact with community members and environmental technicians from other indigenous communities to share experiences and learning as well as network with environmental-related organizations and government agencies. After completing the program, hands-on training opportunities may be provided to the graduates in ongoing oil sands science and monitoring projects, such as Lake Athabasca water quality monitoring, and fish health monitoring.