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Nibinamik youth retreat features environmental monitoring

Friday August 8, 2014
Submitted photos

Youth from Nibinamik are taught how to use environmental monitoring equipment by Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group staff members during the 16th annual Nibinamik Youth Retreat.
Submitted photos

Youth from Nibinamik are taught how to use environmental monitoring equipment by Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group staff members during the 16th annual Nibinamik Youth Retreat.

Micro-invertebrates training and the effects of climate change were among the topics shared by RoFATA environmental monitoring students at the 16th annual Nibinamik Youth Retreat.

“We did some water quality tests,” said Harry Bunting, a Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance environmental monitoring student from Constance Lake. “We also did some micro-invertebrates training, teaching the youth what the insect are, what types of insects are in (that group).”

Bunting enjoyed sharing his knowledge at the youth retreat, which was attended by about 90 youth from Nibinamik and other communities at a remote location about an hour’s boat ride from the Matawa First Nations community.

“It went really well — I had a lot of fun up there,” Bunting said. “It was good to learn from the Elders, learn from the youth and learn from the community.”

Bunting and the other environmental monitoring students attended the youth retreat along with four Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group staff members.

“We put together workshops for the kids where they learn how to be an environmental monitor,” said Sarah Cockerton, manager of environmental programs at Four Rivers. “They collect water bugs and put water probes into the water and work at the lab and identify trees using microscopes.”

Four Rivers also held a GPS workshop for youth during the youth retreat.

“We always have a lot of fun,” Cockerton said. “We deliver hands-on stuff, so it is a lot of fun. They’re out on the water collecting water bugs or out trying to catch little creatures and come back to look at it with the microscope.” Cockerton said the goal is to encourage the youth to develop an interest in science and the environment so they will pursue education and training in the science/environmental sector in the future.

“What was really nice about this year is the (environmental monitoring students) who are delivering (the workshops) are actually doing that training themselves to do that career,” Cockerton said. “So we’re hoping that the youth can see that it’s not just coming from us (that) there are going to be jobs. These guys have a job at the end of their program doing that.”

Cockerton stressed that the environmental monitoring students organized, prepared and delivered their workshops at the youth retreat.

“That was part of their training to get out there and give back or share back what they’ve been learning the last three months,” Cockerton said.

In addition to sharing their knowledge with the youth, the environmental monitoring students also completed some sampling of the fish in the local area.

“We found suckers, whitefish, walleye, sturgeon,” Bunting said. “They were quite fresh and very healthy. There wasn’t anything influencing them, yet.”

Bunting said the fish may eventually be affected by proposed mining activities in the Ring of Fire mineral exploration area.

“It’s good that we went up there this last week to assess some of the water quality,” Bunting said. “It is quite healthy right now.”


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