In May, representatives from Alaska’s Haida communities traveled to British Columbia, Haida Gwaii to collaborate on indigenous natural resource stewardship and strengthen international relations.
Carrie Sykes of the Organized Village of Kasaan and Anthony Christiansen of the Hydaburg Cooperative Association participated in the community exchange program as part of The Nature Conservancy’s Emerald Edge Indigenous Stewardship Initiative. The intent of this program is to bring together people and projects from the coasts of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington to support the long-term health of the world’s largest coastal temperate forest. This work was supported locally with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, a growing network of organizations working together to meet the challenge of sustainable community development in Southeast Alaska.
A collective goal of these complementary programs is to support increased Indigenous leadership and local capacity-building for natural resource management in communities across our shared rainforest.
The coasts of our region are a truly sacred resource and extend far across international borders. International collaboration between Southeast Alaska and British Columbia on resource monitoring and indigenous stewardship present new opportunities to better protect these resources for generations to come. Photo Credit: Brenda Berry
While in Haida Gwaii, Sykes and Christianson participated in the Coastal Stewardship Network Annual Gathering. The Coastal Stewardship Network Annual Gathering brings together stewardship representatives from the First Nations to share information and strategize about important issues related to governing traditional areas. This year, the conference was opened to guests from northern Vancouver Island, the Northwest Territories and southern Alaska.
“Although the Haidas have been separated through a migration to Alaska, we are the same nation and we need a unified voice to protect our customary and traditional resources on both sides of the border. This relationship must include other First Nations and Alaska Native Tribes. We are united by our Native culture, resources and water. When we stand united we have strength and can make a difference for future generations,” says Sykes.
Through the Coastal Stewardship Network Gathering, it became clear that the Alaskan Haida and Canadian Haida have much to learn from one another in areas, such as cultural tourism, resources management, co-management, and the protection of culture. Developing this partnership further presents opportunities for collaboration and sharing of information and research processes that could greatly improve local management of traditional resources.
“It was very exciting to learn about what the First Nations are doing in British Columbia to assert their self-governance and sovereign authority. Although the management regimes are quite different between the two countries, there are similar concerns such as impacts from development, competing uses for the resources, challenges facing the eulachon and clams, and potential impacts from sea otter and invasive species,” Carrie Sykes says.
The transboundary relationship with First Nations in British Columbia and Alaska Native Tribes means strength through unity on issues that are important to both nation’s coastal communities. One prime example is with promoting best management practices for mining operations on the Stikine, Taku and Unuk Rivers. These rivers are very important to Alaskan Natives for salmon, and are equally important to Canadian First Nations.
Other important collaboration opportunities identified during this exchange include:
- Collective data management: How can community resource managers effectively share and access cross boundary data sets to improve management practices at an international scale?
- Co-management agreements: How can indigenous communities support and facilitate agreements with the Providence and U.S. Federal Government to support cross boundary relationships?;
- Guardian Watchman Program development in Kasaan and Hydaburg: Can elements of British Columbia’s successful indigenous natural resource stewardship program be brought to Southeast Alaska? ;
- Monitoring of traditional lands and waters: How can both nations learn from one another and improve natural resource monitoring programs at a grand scale; and the
- Haida Gwaii Heritage Tourism Strategy: How can Southeast Alaskan Haida communities learn from Haida Gwaii’s tourism successes and improve local tourism development (particularly with the development of a Kasaan Tourism Plan).
The Sustainable Southeast Partnership is eager to turn this knowledge and strengthened international partnership into action for rural communities here in Southeast Alaska.
Alana Peterson is the Program Director of the Sustainable Southeast Partnership.
“The indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest have it engrained in our culture to be good stewards of the land and its resources. Indigenous values are a natural platform for creating sustainable community development. Although there is an international border that separates southeast from British Columbia, we have historically shared information and ideas up and down the coast. We see great value in continuing to share ideas and information with our neighbors in British Columbia,” says Peterson.
5 February 2015
Registration Begins for the Southeast Alaska Farm and Fish to Schools Conference
Connecting Alaska’s Schools with Local Food Entrepreneurs
Registration has begun for the Southeast Farm and Fish to Schools Conference. This event will be the first regional opportunity focused on building connections between Alaska’s school systems and local food entrepreneurs. Anyone interested in bringing more local foods into our school system is invited to collaborate and connect with regional experts to strengthen fish and farm to school programming across the state.
Southeast Conference, the regional economic development organization, is coordinating the conference in conjunction with the newly formed Sustainable Southeast Partnership, a diverse network of organizations working together on community sustainability in Southeast Alaska.
Alana Peterson, program director of the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Haa Aani, LLC comments:
“Often we find that the barriers to achieving access to local, healthy foods can be overcome if we work together as a region to make this initiative a priority. By bringing all the key players together for a conference we are hoping to achieve just that.”
Fish and farm to school programming offers significant economic, environmental cultural and nutritional opportunities to our rural communities and region.
“Schools in southeast received more than $500,000 last year to buy Alaskan produced foods through the Nutritional Alaska Foods to Schools grant program.” Shelly Wright, Executive Director of Southeast Conference comments. “However, schools are often limited by what they can procure. There are untapped opportunities for, farmers, fishermen and small business in our region. We are eager to break down barriers and grow the opportunities for everyone.”
About the Southeast Alaska Fish to Schools Conference
Conference Dates: April 2-3, 2015
Conference Location: Centennial Hall, Juneau Alaska
Online registration and more detailed conference information available at www.seconference.org
Register before Feb. 28 to be eligible for a travel stipend
Contact Lia Heifetz for more information about the conference and accessing a travel stipend firstname.lastname@example.org
Who Should Attend
- Existing or aspiring businesses and entrepreneurs interested in growing or harvesting local foods
- Fishermen who want to explore school markets
- School administrators and community members interested in procuring more local foods for schools
- People interested in starting a school growing program (greenhouse or garden)
- Educators looking to exchange insights and obtain resources for developing food systems curricula for the classroom
- Local entrepreneur development track with experts in developing business structure, planning, financing and marketing for a local foods enterprise
- Information and resources for educators to increase awareness for students around food origins, health and traditional use
- Resources for projects to sustain local foods in schools
- Success stories from around the region and state
- Opportunities for networking and collaboration
The Energy Hog in Kasaan
Carrie and Minnie helped organize assemblies at the Kasaan and Hydaburg schools as I brought the Energy Hog with me. What is the Energy Hog you ask? The Energy Hog is a great way to introduce students to energy use and energy savings concepts in a fun, entertaining and memorable way. This is the second year that the Alaska Energy Authority has rented the costume and coordinated its appearance in schools around the state. Here’s footage from Energy Hog assemblies done in Angoon, Hoonah, and Kake, starring Tasha McKoy as the Energy Hog Buster. Video courtesy Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority and Nathan Havey of Thrive Consulting Group: http://youtu.be/8iDAMfs7iuk. I’ve participated in these programs and am pleasantly surprised at how engaged the students are. We had a lot of fun at both schools. I was also able to speak to the principals about AK EnergySmart, an Alaska specific curriculum developed by Renewable Energy Alaska Project and Alaska Center for Energy and Power with the support of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
In Kasaan, Carrie is interested in promoting energy efficiency opportunities for residents. We will continue to discuss the most effective ways to do this. I’ll share more about this soon. In Hydaburg, the tribe is interested in energy efficiency and district biomass heating for some of the larger, centrally located commercial buildings in town. I look forward to following up with Minnie, the Tribe and the consultants who have been looking at the buildings already. I also met with Machelle Edenshaw and Dennis Nickerson in Kasaan. They are working to build even further collaboration on energy and environmental issues among the Island’s tribes, and organize the Earth Day event on Prince of Wales. It was great to finally meet Dennis, as we have been emailing for months now. I will help them look into options to improve Kasaan’s energy independence. At the very least I hope to be involved in the Earth Day event in 2015, which draws hundreds of students Island-wide.
Carrie at OVK’s new Cafe
Access to fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins in Alaska can be a daily challenge. Alaska imports roughly ninety five percent of its food. This means that families pay high prices for processed and typically unhealthy foods, communities are vulnerable to delays and complications with importing from far away places and the state of Alaska unnecessarily exports money out of a region that is thirsty for economic stimulation.
This doesn’t need to be the case and a growing force of communities and entrepreneurs are working to challenge the status quo and localize our food systems.
While greenhouses and garden initiatives are important elements, revitalizing our food system doesn’t end with cultivation. In Alaska, we are surrounded by wild food sources as diverse and vibrant as the cultures and communities that call this state home….
Learn about a growing community of Alaskan residents, communities and organizations who are dedicated to invigorating Alaska’s Food System with wild foods. This short video also showcases the Kasaan Wild Foods Harvest, an event that was facilitated through partnerships with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, the Cooperative Extension, the Organized Village of Kasaan, the Sitka Conservation Society and Southeast Conference.
Totem Trail Cafe: Mounting the painting by William Stewart, “A Carving Lesson” .
Totem Trail Cafe
- Participated in a potluck for the Carving Shed Expansion and unveiled a painting by William Stewart of “A Carving Lesson” at the Cafe.
- Completed the ADEC Application for Food Establishment Permit . Included extensive research to gather necessary information, including maps, drawings, and schematics for all equipment.
- Submitted the DEC Plan Review Application which included documenting potable water supply, wastewater and solid waste disposal, and floor plans.
- Worked with Karen Petersen, of the UAF-Cooperative Extension, to provide Hospitality Training.
- Continued to book cabins and trouble-shoot any problems.
- Investigating online booking.
- Developing a “Welcome to Kasaan” booklet for the cabins and the Café.
Path to Prosperity Competition
- Continue to gather information that will be used at Business Boot Camp.
For additional information about the Tribe, see the Organized Village of Kasaan website.