Nation-Based Sovereign-Based Government

Reclaiming Our Lands Utilizing Technology – What is GIS?:

January 13, 2021

Treaty 2 Territory – Care and Protection of the Natural World Circle has been busy. With only 2 staff members it can be a significant challenge to represent our Government’s interests when dealing with the many corporate, Provincial and Federal departments and their thousands of staff.

One of the tools we use to help us is a Geographic Information System or GIS. A geographic information system is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes.

Perhaps the simplest and most recognizable example of GIS lives on the phone in your pocket or your computer – Google Earth. Google earth is about as basic as GIS software can get. Google Earth is simple, fun and quite useful but does not have a lot of the advanced features required for more technical work.

CPNW uses Esri software. Esri is a company that produces the “Microsoft Office” of GIS Software. A tad more complicated than Google Earth – but with all the features you could want. Esri is the industry standard in GIS and their various software packages offer tools specifically designed for different industries. There are a couple alternative systems that can be used effectively – but no matter what software you choose every GIS Technician will end up “speaking” Esri.

CPNW has been busy gathering geospatial data and organizing it with the goal of offering easy access to our information through development of a web-based interface. This system will allow staff and T2 citizens easy access to geospatial information. The interface will allow the user to “layer” different data sets into a custom map product. Layers currently under development include: Watersheds, Watershed District Boundaries, Crown Land, Parks, old residential school locations, Municipal Boundaries, Hunting Areas – and many more. The first online version will be online within the next couple of weeks.

A more specific example of what GIS can be used for would be the work recently completed to assess the Agricultural Capability of the land in all of Treaty 2 Territory and each of our communities. We used a dataset generated by a large land study that uses several different aspects of the land such as elevation and soil samples to grade the farming capability of every corner of the land.

The purpose of the study is to compare the quality of local community lands with the whole of T2 territory. This is a way to quantify if the Crown has upheld its honour and provided the best Agricultural Lands available.

Big Surprise here! This study proves what we always knew. The newcomers made sure they kept the best Agriculture Lands for their own use while reserve lands are some of the least capable of sustaining agriculture in the territory.

There are literally thousands other uses for GIS. GIS is used in every industry from law enforcement to medicine and from agriculture to construction. Assuming there are enough interested citizens in today’s blog we plan on sharing information on the development of our GIS systems as we complete new work.

We are also working on a climate adaptation project in 6 of our Local Nations that will require a number of citizens to get involved with tasks such as adding geographical context to our Elders stories, documenting the changes in the movement of surface waters in and around the community. Ultimately, we will be mapping each Local Nation y to create 3D models of the land. The models are photo realistic and accurate down to centimeter level. The work will be completed using drones and training people from our territory. This will be phase one of three, the ultimate goal is to ensure our local nations are better prepared for future emergencies. The merging of Traditional Knowledge with technology will result a more efficient model for our Local Nations to act upon.

If you are interested in GIS technology we invite you to keep an eye on CPNW as we move ahead with our projects.

Submitted By:

Ron Missyabit, NW Circle Keeper                                                                                                                                             Shawn Gurke, Mapping/GIS Helper Helper

Last modified: January 13, 2021

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