Chapman and Innovation Grant Recipient: Audrey Irvine-Broque – West Moberly First Nations

Hear back from Audrey Irvine-Broque about her project on climate change impacts in the West Moberly First Nations territory. Audrey was a recipient of the Centre for Community Engaged Learning’s Chapman and Innovation Grants in the 2022-23 school year. You can view her full report here.

Applications for CCEL Grants are open until Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 11:59 PM PT. Learn more about our grant funding here.

Could you please tell us what your project is about?

This project was designed to bring together UBC faculty and members of the West Moberly First Nations’ (WMFN) land use department to discuss climate impacts in WMFN territory. While WMFN has been highly engaged in monitoring the changes to their environment, climate change presents a whole new range of impacts that are not well understood. Because of this, WMFN is seeking to develop a research strategy for their nation in order to respond to the current and projected changes to their lands and waters. The goal of the Nun ke’ Daahwéhsats, or Dancing with the Land, workshop was to begin the establishment of a Cooperative Climate Research Agenda (CCRA) which will identify needs, gaps, priorities, and funding opportunities related to climate impacts This CCRA will identify immediate needs, knowledge gaps, future priorities, and funding opportunities for ongoing research to understand climate impacts, in line with WMFN community values and objectives.

What impact has your project had on amplifying Indigenous ways of knowing and threats being posed onto traditional ways of life as a result of climate change?

After the workshop was planned, we realized there was also an opportunity to host a public lecture by Chief Roland Willson. This lecture allowed many more people to be a part of the event than previously designed, including the students from UBC’s new “Climate Emergency” course. In the lecture, Chief Willson used maps, photographs, and stories to describe the cumulative effects of industrial development in Treaty 8 territory, and how these impacts relate to land and culture. Though these impacts are all happening within our province, we heard from many attendees that they did not understand the full scope of these issues – or West Moberly’s efforts to address them (e.g.,  lawsuits, monitoring, maternal penning of  endangered caribou) – before the lecture.

Did you encounter any challenges? If yes, how did you overcome them?

How to approach this problem is itself a challenge: there are real limits to what we can know and predict with certainty — which makes planning for climate change impacts challenging. There are also so many impacts that could be studied, each of which would take considerable effort and attention to understand. So, figuring out the overlap between the kind of questions that can be answered and the kinds of answers that are most needed – whether that’s to inform management of a particular species or better emergency preparedness – is an important task. The objective of this workshop was simply to bring together a group of people whose research focus corresponds to one piece of this puzzle and to try to figure out which of these many questions we have the capacity to address.

What was the most interesting or surprising thing you learned throughout the duration of your project?

Even though it was the premise of the gathering, the real interdisciplinarity of the conversions left me surprised. Asking questions about climate change while having a climate scientist in the room: turns out, really helpful! Conversely, it’s easy to talk very abstractly about a climate impact, at which point hearing the long history of that particular issue within a community highlights all of the ways that these impacts are felt and may play out. Having so many people put their focus and expertise on these issues made it feel like we were building collective capacity to more deeply understand the problems in front of us.

What advice do you have for students thinking of applying for a CCEL Grant?

Bringing people together around a problem, question, or goal is often the most important first step. If there are individuals or groups that you want to bring into deeper collaboration, a CCEL grant can provide the support to thoughtfully and intentionally create these connections.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.