You may not have seen much of us in person lately, but Four Rivers has been quite active within the homelands of the Matawa member First Nations this summer! With personal interactions becoming safer to do outside, Four Rivers had the opportunity to host training for Matawa members the week of August 9-12, 2021, in Ginoogaming First Nation. Four Rivers partnered with Living Lakes Canada (LLC) and the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) to provide Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) training. Hands-on training focused on the collection of water bugs by following a standardized sampling protocol. By collecting and determining which water bugs are found in waterways, we are able to draw conclusions about the health of rivers, streams and creeks in our homelands!
We were fortunate to have participants from Aroland, Constance Lake, Ginoogaming, Nibinamik, and Webequie First Nations, and were also joined individuals from Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek and the Métis Nation of Ontario. Participants had an “in-class” session where we learned about the basics of CABIN sampling and got a chance to see all of the sampling equipment that is used. The next two and a half days were spent in the field learning how to perform all of the sampling techniques, safety protocols, how to identify good sample sites, data collection, and how to process the sample once collected. Participants were also exposed to a new process of analyzing the water bugs using environmental DNA (eDNA) in a laboratory setting through a program called Sequencing the Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring (STREAM). STREAM is located at the University of Guelph and is capable of rapidly generating data on water bug sample analysis, better supporting community-based monitoring initiatives compared to the conventional ways of analyzing samples (which includes looking at, identifying, and counting every bug in every sample while using a microscope – very time consuming!).
On completion of the training all participants received a Field Assistant certificate, which can be upgraded to the Field Technician or Project Manager level certification by completing a set of online modules. Our members are now armed and (almost!) ready to begin their own water bug monitoring initiatives within their homelands to gather baseline data on the health of their rivers, streams, and creeks! We at Four Rivers had a wonderful time working in the field with our community members again, sharing and exchanging knowledge and skills. We look forward to hosting more training sessions and working with many more members in the future! Congratulations to all our participants!
We would also like to send a big thank you to all of those who participated, to Ginoogaming First Nation for hosting us, and to our partners LLC and WWF for providing a great training experience.