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Combining traditional knowledge with the PIEVC framework to strengthen climate resilient infrastructure in First Nations communities

2018.05.31
Working together with the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC) and Stantec, Engineers Canada has released a new version of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) Protocol that is tailored specifically for the unique requirements of First Nations communities.
 
OFNTSC, Stantec, and Engineers Canada first began developing the First Nations PIEVC/Asset Management Toolkit when applying the PIEVC Protocol to the water and wastewater systems of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. As they went through the process, they learned about elements that could be modified, refined, and made applicable to First Nations, which eventually led to the creation of the new toolkit, officially launched at the OFNTSC Ontario Water Conference held in Niagara Falls on May 15, 2018.
 
The toolkit adapts the PIEVC Protocol to the unique characteristics of many First Nations. For example, many First Nations communities are smaller than the municipalities that have previously used the PIEVC Protocol; they often work with a skeleton infrastructure; and they may not have the climate data upon which the PIEVC Protocol relies. 
 
On the other hand, First Nations communities can take advantage of their traditional knowledge, passed down for generations, that can give them insight about nature, climate, and changes in climate. It may be that members of the community see that their hunting grounds are moving, or that their medicinal plants are not available in the area where they used to be. Integrating this knowledge with the PIEVC protocol ultimately offers a far more complete picture of climate-related issues than could be obtained using data alone.
 
After developing this new version of the PIEVC protocol—which also combined asset management concepts into one toolkit—when working with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, it was then tested in two other First Nations: the Moose Cree First Nation of Moose Factory, and the Oneida Nations of the Thames. 
 
More First Nations are being trained on how to use it, and interest has grown in Ontario and beyond. The inclusion of traditional knowledge in an engineering framework has led to broader community involvement and a unique partnership that will ideally present new ways to improve models of the past.