Examining the Potential Use of Geospatial -Informatics Technologies to Engage Northern Canadian First Nation Youth in Environmental Initiatives
Isogai, Andrea Danielle
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Having experienced climatic warming before, First Nations people of the Albany River basin in sub-arctic, Canada, have already shown the ability to be adaptable to external influences. However, societal changes and the current accelerated rate of environmental change have reduced First Nations people ability to adapt. In addition, young people are no longer going out on the land as much. Fort Albany First Nation community members have commented on the lack of connection that some youth have with the land. A disconnect with the environment by youth can threaten the adaptive capacity of sub-arctic First Nations. As identified by Fort Albany First Nation community members, one potential tool that could influence the youth to become more aware of their land, is the collaborative geomatics tool. The collaborative geomatics tool is based on the WIDE (Web Informatics Development Environment) software toolkit. The toolkit was developed by The Computer Systems Group of the University of Waterloo to construct, design, deploy and maintain complex web-based systems. The collaborative geomatics tool supports a common reference map, based on high-resolution imagery. Three environmental outreach camps were held from 2011-2012, programming utilized place-based education as the platform to engage youth in their environment and community and begin using the associated mapping technology. All camps utilized the newly developed collaborative-geomatics tool and a camera ready handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) while participating in various activities that engaged them in their community and environment. The outreach program worked well in connecting youth with knowledgeable community members allowing for the direct transfer of traditional knowledge in a culturally appropriate manner, that is, learning through observation and doing, as well as other culturally-appropriate educational strategies. In addition, the informatics tool supported the archiving of this knowledge through the uploading of geospatially tagged pictures taken by the youth.