The Bridge To Land Water Sky is the first Indigenous-led living lab in collaboration with Mistawasis Nêhiyawak, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan Aboriginal Land Technicians, North Saskatchewan River Basin Council, Redberry Lake Biosphere Region, University of Saskatchewan, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
This five year project will allow producers and First Nations to work toward the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening climate resiliency. It is located within the North Saskatchewan River Basin and Redberry Lake Biosphere of Saskatchewan on Treaty 6 Territory.
Funding for the project comes from AAFC’s Agricultural Climate Solutions – Living Labs program. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie Claude Bibeau noted in their national release about the new Living Labs projects: “For generations, Canadian farmers and researchers have been finding new ways to protect natural resources while making production practices more efficient. By working together, they are creating innovative research-based solutions that can be applied to real-world challenges on the farm. Our efforts are accelerating the sector’s ability to respond to climate change, all while working to ensure global food security.”
Due to the historical marginalization of Indigenous people from farming in the region, current agricultural practices on First Nations lands have been primarily determined by lease agreements with non-Indigenous farmers, often with little guidance or input from the First Nations.
“This project will assist in strengthening the relationship with farmers and First Nations people across Saskatchewan. As Indigenous leaders of the project, we are committed to the protection of our Indigenous values, our treaties, our community, our lands, and our resources for future generations” said Chief Watson.
The goal of this project is to reimagine a farming system where farmers and First Nations work towards a common goal of improved livelihoods and productive, biodiverse, climate-resilient farmlands.
Thousands of acres of band-managed reserve lands are farmed by non-Indigenous grain producers. The Bridge To Land Water Sky project aims to restore marginal and unproductive lands on and off the reserve into productive rangelands. Livestock management practices that maximize carbon storage will be tested with the future goal to create spaces for reintroducing bison populations.