2021-22 SCARF project summary

Eleven applications were received for the 2021/22 fiscal year. Nine projects were awarded funding from a total budget of $60,000. Descriptions of approved projects are provided below.

Boreal Caribou Habitat Enhancement

Project lead: Deninu Kue First Nation

Species at risk focus: Boreal caribou

Purpose: Restoring critical boreal caribou habitat is an important step in the ongoing range planning and management of the species. This project has been developed to support and promote the conservation of boreal caribou and its habitat in the DKFN traditional territory. The purpose of this study is to accelerate the restoration of functioning winter range for boreal caribou in the South Slave Region of the NWT, mainly in areas that have been recently impacted by wildfires.

The following objectives were developed to support the purpose:

  • Enhance boreal caribou winter forage in burned areas that burned in the summer of 2008 and 2015.
  • Evaluate techniques to establish terrestrial lichen (Cladonia subgenus Cladina) within a post-wildfire environment.
  • Develop a community-based program in Fort Resolution for the stewardship of boreal caribou habitat.

Community-led Species at Risk Detection: eDNA Sampling in Traditionally Important Water Bodies of the North Slave Region

Project lead: North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA)

Species at risk focus: Various

Purpose: Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new and emerging tool for the conservation of biodiversity. Compared to traditional capture methods, eDNA collection is simple, non-invasive, inexpensive, and does not require a permit. The presence or absence of a species in an area is determined from the genetic material in an easy-to-obtain environmental sample (water, sediment, soil, etc.). Thus, eDNA is especially useful for detecting rare and/or cryptic Species at Risk (SAR), which may be missed by visual or capture-based surveys. The objectives of this project are to 1) increase capacity within Indigenous organizations for community-based monitoring and training in environmental sciences, monitoring and conservation; 2) contribute to data poor areas of the Northwest Territories on Species At Risk research and knowledge; 3) “braid” western science and Indigenous knowledge in Species At Risk research, and 4) build upon the baseline pilot data collected in summer of 2019 and sampling year of 2020, including conducting water quality assessments.

Deh Gáh Culture and Science Camps

Project lead: Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

Species at risk focus: Various

Purpose: The Deh Gáh Culture and Science Camp aims to 1) educate youth and community members on species at risk in the area, 2) provide on-the-land experience learning opportunities that bridge Dene and academic knowledge, and 3) foster environmental stewardship by providing youth with experiences that develop deep connections with the land and Dene culture. Students in kindergarten to grade 9 will participate in a series of week-long day camps in May, June and September 2021 to gather information on each of the species at risk in the area. Students will explore species at risk habitats (e.g.: locate food sources and discuss the importance of protecting these habitats) and participate in harvesting medicines and traditional foods from the land, while learning about Dene values and cultural practices from a local Elder.

Bluenose-West Caribou Hunting and Knowledge Exchange

Project lead: Inuvik Hunters and Trappers Committee

Species at risk focus: Barren-ground caribou

Purpose: The goal of this project is to organize a hunting workshop with two experienced hunters to teach four youth about proper hunting techniques (e.g.: how to hunt safely and properly skin and cut caribou meat), while respecting the herd, meat, land and management zones. Youth will also learn about caribou migration (how and why), and paperwork related on tags. The ultimate goal is to teach youth to respect barren-ground caribou herds and to keep them at a sustainable number, while passing this knowledge to other community members.

Rare Vascular Plants in the NWT

Project lead: Laurie Hamilton

Species at risk focus: Rare vascular plants (including hairy braya)

Purpose: This project will create and publish a “Rare Vascular Plants of the Northwest Territories” report, similarly to the outdated Rare Vascular Plants in the Northwest Territories Syllogeus No. 73 (McJannet, Argus and Cody 1995) published by the Canadian Museum of Nature. The updated publication will build upon the NWT Species 2016-2020 – General Status Ranks of Wild Species in the Northwest Territories by focusing on the 222 vascular plant species that are listed as ‘at risk’, ‘may be at risk’ and ‘sensitive’.

Whooping Crane Education and Awareness

Project lead: Ecology North

Species at risk focus: Whooping crane

Purpose: The goal of this project is to promote awareness of the whooping crane and their status as Endangered in Canada. In particular, the project will focus on education and awareness of the risks that the species is facing, ongoing recovery strategy methods, and the ways in which whooping cranes are beneficial to their environment and to Indigenous cultures in the NWT. This project will also highlight the importance of critical habitat and protected areas, by increasing awareness about the whooping crane breeding grounds located in the NWT. The target audience for this project will be school-aged children, their teachers, and educators, emphasising outreach in the Fort Smith area, but also members of the general public in the NWT.

The objectives of this project are to develop whooping crane resources that will:

  • Raise awareness and stewardship for whooping crane and species at risk in general.
  • Increase appreciation of projected areas.
  • Raise awareness of historical near extinction.
  • Highlight the importance of critical habitat, including avoiding nest disturbance.

As such, this project will shine light on the unique story of the whooping crane in the NWT and create education and awareness opportunities into the future.

Barren-ground Caribou Harvest Data Collection

Project lead: Athabasca Denesųłiné Ne Ne Land Corporation

Species at risk focus: Barren-ground caribou

Purpose: The Athabasca Denesųłiné has identified the need to collect long-term, continuous records of barren-ground caribou harvest levels for each of the communities in the Athabasca Region (Fond du Lac, Black Lake, and Hatchet Lake Denesųłiné First Nations). The goal of this project is to establish caribou numbers required for the protection of harvesting traditions on the Land, but also to further understand the value of caribou on Athabasca Denesųłiné health, culture, spirituality, and economy.

Bank Swallow Surveys

Project lead: Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board

Species at risk focus: Bank swallow

Purpose: Bank swallow surveys were initiated and completed by the Gwichya Gwich’in Renewable Resources Council in Tsiigehtchic on the Mackenzie River, Arctic Red River and Dempster Highway from the NWT/Yukon border to Inuvik in 2014 and 2015. This project will continue the initiative started in 2014, and will greatly benefit the re-assessment of the species (under the federal Species at Risk Act) scheduled in 2023.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Document colony sites, identify critical habitat, and estimate population trends of bank swallows in the GSA.
  • Document locations of slumping along the riverbanks.
  • Increase knowledge on bank swallows within the GSA.
  • Increase knowledge and skills in youth by teaching about the processes involved with scientific research and community-based monitoring.

Alternative Traditional Foods

Project lead: Sachs Harbour Hunters and Trappers Committee

Species at risk focus: Peary caribou

Purpose: The goal of this project is to organize a hunting workshop with two local hunters to teach two youth about sustainable harvesting and proper hunting techniques (i.e., skin/cut caribou meat and dry hides). Youth will also learn about species at risk, harvest requirements, and alternative foods when Peary caribou numbers are too low for harvesting. Youth will participate in the harvest of a Peary caribou, as well as geese and their eggs to exchange for alternative traditional foods with other communities.