This past spring, Water First and Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, located in northern Quebec near the border of Labrador, started a collaboration on a new environmental project.
This three-year project includes both a contaminant study to establish baseline mercury and heavy metals concentrations in the soil, water, and traditionally harvested fish, and a community-based fish habitat restoration and education project in the Caniapiscau River watershed. Three local young adults were hired as interns for the project — Lawrence Mameanskum, Wayne Nattawappio, and Kabimbetas Mokoush — and have so far received hands-on training for water quality analysis, fish & soil sampling, fish biology, fish population assessment, and fish habitat restoration.
In June, the interns and Water First staff started the contaminant study, completing the sampling on Lac Vacher and the Iron Arm portion of Attikamagen Lake. In July, five large brook trout spawning shoals were constructed on Little Barry Lake. The sites were chosen through consultation with community elders, a restoration biologist, and Water First staff. In August, consulting biologist Richard Rowe of FRi Ecological Services joined the interns and Water First staff to perform a lake trout population assessment on the Iron Arm portion of Attikamagen Lake.
Watch for more updates this fall as the interns complete the sampling of Lac Astray and another bay of Attikamagen Lake for the contaminant study, and determine future fish habitat restoration sites.