Northlands Dënesųłiné Waste & Recycling

Click here to access the full Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation Waste & Recycling Initiative DRAFT Report & Plan.

Kids Playing Shinny on Lac Brochet – Nov 2017

In 2016, after extensive consultation and discussion among its leadership and community members, Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation (NDFN) published a Sustainable Development Strategy[1]. The priorities of sustainable waste management and recycling appear a number of times in this Strategy. From the Introduction[2]:

“The Dene people have a tradition of self-reliance. For thousands of years, our ancestors accepted what the land had to offer and made a living that was passed from generation to generation….The path to sustainability, self-reliance, and resilience in the 21st century is not to return completely to the old ways, rather to incorporate our teachings and values to solve contemporary problems….Modern principles of sustainability and sustainable development echo traditional Indigenous concepts….There is no waste in nature; every output is an input….To be sustainable, we know that nothing new is created. We need to respect mother earth again. We must not pollute or degrade her….We believe that this initiative to build systems and complete projects is not just for environmental sustainability but is also the best path to economic development and long term local employment in the community.”

Recycling and waste management to date

The Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation (NDFN) has a little over 1,100 members. Its main community is situated on reserve land on the north shore of Lac Brochet and has approximately 1,000 residents.

Most of the waste generated by this community is transported to a waste collection area on provincial Crown Land approximately 2 km north of reserve land.

The handling of waste by the community has both strengths and weaknesses, which are detailed in the Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation Waste & Recycling Initiative Report & Plan. There have been some attempts at recycling in recent years although, before the start of this project, there was not a systematic or comprehensive approach in the community.

Waste Collection

Although Public Works staff collects trash, there is no consistent system for how people make their trash available for collection and there are no standardized residential collection containers.

Derelict heavy Equipment Area

Approximately 30 derelict heavy vehicles are located on reserve area in a field just south of the community adjacent to the Band’s Public Works Garage.

While similar in some ways to the “Derelict Equipment Area” in Sayisi Dene (Tadoule Lake), the area in Northlands is considerably smaller, and has much less derelict equipment in it.

With the recent increase in capital and infrastructure projects in the community, some effort has been made to clean up this area. Further work remains to be done to remove all derelict equipment and ensure that no contaminating fluids (such as motor oil and hydraulic fluid) is leaking into the soil in this area.

Current Waste Collection Area

Plastic Blown Around

The current Waste Collection Area had both positive and negative aspects prior to the start of the current project.

Some improvements were made to this area during the current project, but more remains to be done.

The primary problems with the Current Waste Collection Area prior to the start of this project included:

  • Unrestricted public access
    • No set hours
    • No fencing
    • No gate
  • No signage informing residents of appropriate dumping areas
  • No separation of recyclables from the general waste stream
    • Neither organic nor inorganic recyclables are separated
  • Frequent, uncontrolled burning of household waste
    • No Burn Cage
    • Burning not conducted by trained personnel
    • Ongoing risk of forest fires
  • Deposited waste is not covered
    • Winds blow lighter pieces of waste into surrounding areas
  • Waste is spread out over wide area
  • Waste is often mixed with sand and gravel, resulting in low density of garbage
  • Waste has blown into a former quarry near the Active Dumping Area

Land farm not managed or monitored

Reasons for Optimism

Although there a number of waste and recycling challenges in Northlands Dënesųłiné, there are strong reasons for optimism.

  • Proper management of waste—and a robust recycling program—are priorities in the Sustainable Development Strategy.
  • There are no derelict vehicles around the homes or along the side of roads in Northlands.
  • In an average year, roads and paths within the community have only a small amount of litter.
    • It’s worth noting, however, that litter was more of a problem this year than in previous years. This may have been due to a sandstorm which blew through the community in early summer this year.

THE CURRENT PROJECT

The Crew At A Cleaned Up Camp Site

This project was initiated in Summer 2017 by NDFN Chief and Council in discussions with members of the Boke Consulting team, as a means of implementing the priorities and strategies for waste in the Sustainable Development Strategy.

An application was made on August 30, 2017 to Indigenous Services Canada under the Lands & Economic Development Service Program (LEDSP) using the First Nation Solid Waste Management Initiative Proposal Form and funding was committed by Indigenous Services Canada.

Work on the ground began with recruiting a Cleanup Crew. Community members were invited to sign up to join a Cleanup Crew. The Crew was hired on a casual basis—which meant that a person could work a half day, a full day, or a series of days, as they chose. Any community member currently on Income Assistance was eligible to join the Crew.

Seven people responded to the initial invitation to become Crew Members. Others joined the Crew in the following days, while some of the initial respondents only worked for a short period.

All were trained on the basics of safe work and separating recyclables. The Cleanup Crew began by working their way systematically through the community, cleaning up litter and other small waste items.

The Plan

  Year
area of focus 1 2 3 4
1 Engaging the community review & discuss Plan review & improve Plan annually
2 Reducing and reusing develop school curriculum work with Northern Store to reduce packaging open swap “store” review & improve
3 Staffing and governance choose staff; begin operations;

begin training

continue operations & training;

supplement staff with WOP participants

& summer students;

develop mandate & governance

4 Managing external agreements secure agreements prepare & ship materials;

review agreements annually

5 Creating recycling & waste boxes and stations set up Recycling Depot & Transfer Station build & distribute household boxes repair & replace community & household boxes, as needed
6 Bringing WMF into compliance sub-cells build fence & sub-cell separators sub-cell capping review operations with governments
7 Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management system choose, purchase and ship equipment & supplies begin in-vessel composting;

begin using recycling shuttle

repair or take apart derelict buildings review waste & recycling collection & management
8 Cleaning up waste backlog set up vehicle decommissioning vehicle, equipment and appliance decommissioning, staging and shipping
9 Monitoring current and legacy waste sites choose monitoring company take & send samples for analysis annually

Plan Details

Year 1
area of focus Fall Winter
1 Engaging the community review Plan with Chief & Council distribute & discuss Plan with community
2 Reducing and reusing continue discussion with school staff develop school curriculum
3 Staffing and governance choose and hire staff; waste oil burner operator training;

vehicle decommissioning training;

safety training; SWANA operator training
4 Managing external agreements secure agreement with Thompson & scrap metal companies begin discussions with PROs
5 Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations choose Recycling Depot;
assemble trailers for Transfer Station
set up Recycling Depot for use;

adapt trailers for use as Transfer Station;

secure permission to use school workshop

6 Bringing WMF into compliance use Burn Cage
7 Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management system choose equipment & supplies ship equipment & supplies on winter road
8 Cleaning up waste backlog set up Vehicle Decommissioning Station set up oil burner
9 Monitoring current and legacy waste sites get quotes on monitoring costs choose monitoring company

 

Year 2
area of focus Spring Summer Fall Winter
1 Engaging the community solicit suggestions for improvement from community review Plan with community improve Plan
2 Reducing and reusing Implement school curriculum work with Northern Store & shippers to reduce packaging
3 Staffing and governance BearSmart training recruit & manage summer students;  develop WOP program decide mandate; recruit & manage WOP staff decide governance structure; SWANA manager training
4 Managing external agreements conclude discussions with PROs prepare shipments to Thompson & PROs ship to Thompson & PROs
5 Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations build Platform & Ramp for Transfer Station build Household Collection Boxes distribute Household Collection Boxes
6 Bringing WMF into compliance create sub-cells;assemble materials for fence & sub-cell separators build fence & sub-cell separators;

set up permanent signage

separate materials currently in WMF
7 Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management system train operators on equipment begin using in-vessel composter begin using recycling shuttle offer organics recycling collection for households
8 Cleaning up waste backlog begin using waste oil burner begin vehicle decommission-ing assemble derelict appliances for shipping ship vehicles & appliances
9 Monitoring current and legacy waste sites begin monitoring send samples for testing

 

Year 3
area of focus Spring Summer Fall Winter
1 Engaging the community solicit suggestions for improvement from community review Plan with community improve Plan
2 Reducing and reusing review school curriculum open swap “store” make improvements to school curriculum, as needed
3 Staffing and governance hazardous waste training;

management & governance training

recruit & manage summer students;  develop WOP program recruit & manage WOP staff  Part-time staff to take Landfill Operations training; reviewstaffing

& training

4 Managing external agreements review first year of shipping make changes as needed prepare shipments to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companies ship to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companies
5 Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations Inventory Community Collection Bins & Household CollectionBoxes repair & replace Community Collection Bins & Household Collection Boxes, as needed consider improvements to Recycling Depot & Transfer Station
6 Bringing WMF into compliance Develop sub-cell capping plan review WMF with Govt of MB & Govt of Canada make any needed improvements ship up supplies as needed
7 Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management system conduct inventory of all derelict buildings repair or take apart derelict buildings offer salvaged material to community members
8 Cleaning up waste backlog continue vehicle & equipment decommissioning stage derelict vehicles & equipment for shipping ship vehicles & equipment
9 Monitoring current and legacy waste sites send samples for testing

 

Year 4 & Subsequent Years
area of focus Spring Summer Fall Winter
1 Engaging the community solicit suggestions for improvement from community review Plan with community improve Plan
2 Reducing and reusing review school curriculum continue swap “store” make improvements to school curriculum, as needed
3 Staffing and governance determine if additional training needed recruit & manage summer students; develop WOP program conduct management & governance review;

recruit & manage WOP staff

Implement additional training, if needed
4 Managing external agreements review first year of shipping make changes as needed prepare shipments to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companies ship to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companies
5 Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations Inventory Community Collection Bins & Household CollectionBoxes repair & replace Community Collection Bins & Household Collection Boxes, as needed consider improvements to Recycling Depot & Transfer Station
6 Bringing WMF into compliance Implement cell capping plan conduct annual operations review make changes as needed ship up supplies as needed
7 Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management system review waste & recycling collection & management make changes as needed
8 Cleaning up waste backlog continue vehicle & equipment decommissioning – backlog to be cleared by year 4 stage derelict vehicles & equipment for shipping ship vehicles & equipment
9 Monitoring current and legacy waste sites send samples for testing

Engaging the Community

The success of this program will largely depend upon how much support it receives from the community. Community support for sustainable waste management and recycling will build if:

  • leadership make their commitment clear
  • the Plan creates local jobs
  • awareness is raised
  • community members are offered opportunities for involvement
  • the wider community is involved in ongoing decision making

 

Commitment of Leadership

Chief and Council made a decision to initiate this current Project. This commitment will need to be renewed at the beginning of the next phase of this initiative.

Band staff, particularly the Operations and Maintenance staff, are clear that the way waste has been dealt with in the past cannot continue. They have the support in this from Chief and Council and from a number of community members. The remaining challenge is gain widespread acceptance of this within the community.

Creating Local Jobs

Building Collection Bins From Found And Recycled Materials

Implementing this Plan will increase local employment.

Awareness

We can’t assume that community members will know what is happening in waste and recycling on their own. The staff and leadership of the waste and recycling initiative must work systematically to build awareness of what is happening, and explicitly show how activities embody the values of the community and contribute to the community’s quality of life. Some elements of the Plan that will help build awareness are:

  • A Recycling Depot in the centre of the community, with cleanup and recycling initiatives run out of the Depot
  • Recycling Bins in public places
  • Visible examples of recycling and reuse of waste materials
  • Events and activities advertised through posters in the communityand Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on social media

 

Opportunities for Involvement

Getting people actively involved will help to build a sense of ownership and connection to the Plan. A primary way to get people involved will be through community events like Spring Cleanupsand Recycling Drivesto collect specific recyclables and derelict appliances.

Community Involvement in Decision Making

The Plan needs to be reviewed annually by the community, with suggestions for improvement asked for, and acted on.

Waste & Recycling Staff need to take the lead on this activity, with support from Band staff, and Chief and Council.

One of the first community decisions that needs to be made is a decision whether or not to have the Northern Store charge a 5¢ or 10¢ deposit on drink cans and bottles. This money would be given to the Waste & Recycling initiative, and then given back to anyone bringing in a drink can or bottle to the Recycling Depot or Transfer Station.