Source Water Protection Planning at BOCN

: Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation Source Water Protection and Water Security Plan

This project has the goal to build a lasting partnership between Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation, the South Saskatchewan Water Stewards Inc., the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, and the University of Saskatchewan. This partnership will be created through water education and the development and implementation of a source water protection and water security plan with, and for, Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation. Unlike other source water protection plans, this planning process will include water education with youth in the community school. Elders will also be invited to share stories and experiences around water. These stories and youth art will help to inform the source water protection plan. The formal planning process will commence with the designation of a source water protection Working Committee made up of community members with specific areas of water knowledge (Land Manager; Emergency Coordinator, Water Treatment Operator; Elder, Public Works, Councillor, etc.). Dr. Robert Patrick, University of Saskatchewan, will serve as a planning facilitator to the Working Committee.  The first task of the Working Committee will be a full community water assessment. The community water assessment will document specific details of the community water systems, sources of water, emergency management protocols, alternative water sources, community population, water demands, water quality, etc. Next, the planning process will identify current and future potential threats to source water followed by a risk assessment of the identified threats. To reduce threats to the water sources and improve water security across Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation will require specific management actions to be identified by the Working Committee. An implementation schedule will then be added to the planning document. This implementation schedule will specify when individual management actions will commence, who will be involved, including agency involvement, as well as costs and estimated time of completion.

The outcome of the planning process and the plan document is to provide greater community awareness of the critical importance of safe and secure drinking water for human consumption and ecosystem services. As well, the planning document will provide detailed information on community water system infrastructure, threats and risks to source water, management actions, and an implementation schedule to build water security in the community. This proposal includes a 15-20 minute educational video that documents the full plan-making process including youth education, Elder knowledge sharing, Working Committee interactions as well as the threats and risks as identified in the field. The goal is that this short, educational video will motivate other First Nations to complete a similar source water protection planning process potentially in partnership with their local watershed group.  The outcome of this project is to contribute to reconciliation through meaningful partnerships, water education, source water protection and water security.

While information exists at Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation regarding their water sources and land use conditions, none of this information has been consolidated into a formal planning document with specific management action and implementation priorities. This planning process will produce such a plan.

Water Security Agency