Internship Program: Blending Traditional Ecological Knowledge with Cutting Edge Technology

Water First Interns using Esri software

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Water First Interns from across Manitoulin Island were brought together for a week in May to explore traditional knowledge along with new technologies.

Interns heard from guest speakers about traditional ecological knowledge and Elders discussed the changes in the migratory patterns of fish and animals. Elders shared their observations about the spread of invasive species in the Manitoulin ecosystem which could be related to climate change and the potential impact on First Nations culture and traditions. Land uses for traditional plants and harvesting in First Nations communities across Manitoulin Island were also explored.

Interns learning the Esri Canada softwareIn addition, Interns spent the week completing geographic information systems (GIS) training. This included learning cartographic theory, getting out into the field to collect GIS data, and developing skills in advanced map making. It was great to see their pride in producing individual watershed maps based on the field data they collected. In the future, Interns will be able to apply these skills in developing Source Water Protection Plans for their home communities.

Our Interns had the chance to learn first-hand on sophisticated GIS software donated by Esri Canada. Esri Canada has been a generous supporter of Water First, donating GIS software and licenses for all Water First programs.

“Esri Canada is honoured to partner with Water First, an organization dedicated to supporting humanitarian and conservation efforts, and especially proud that they are doing this work with First Nations communities.” shared Bryan Minhinnett, Inside Sales Representative, Esri Canada. “Environmental sustainability is crucial for Esri and we’re pleased that our software will help Water First carry out their current conservation work and help future First Nation generations manage their water resources.”

Esri Canada will also be donating GIS software to interested Water First partner First Nations communities.

The current Water First Internship Program is operating in collaboration with the seven First Nations communities on Manitoulin Island. After completing the program, the Interns will become certified to work within a water treatment plant and receive support for further education and training in the water science field. The Internship will be wrapping up by the end of the summer and we look forward to sharing more updates in the fall.

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