Click here to access the full Sayisi Dene First Nation Waste & Recycling Initiative Report & Plan.

Community View Over The Frogpond

The people of Sayisi Dene First Nation (SDFN) feel a deep sense of responsibility to the land, the water, and the air. In discssions, members of the community repeatedly emphasized that taking up that responsibility and keeping the world around them clean goes to the heart of what it means to be Dene.

At the same time, these same members of SDFN recognize that the management of waste on and around their reserve land, to date, has not met this responsibility. There has been virtually no recycling and waste management has not been adequate to meet the needs of the community.

This contradiction between deeply-held values and activities to date is a source of frustration and concern for many in the community. (It is also common to many communities throughout the world; human beings rarely resolve this contradiction.)

Recycling & Waste Management to Date

Waste Collection

Along The Fence Inside The Dump

Although Public Works staff collects trash, there are no standardized collection containers. There is also no consistent system for how people make their trash available for collection. Sometimes, the Public Works staff goes into buildings to collect bags of garbage. Some people put household garbage into institutional collection bins. People sometimes take trash to the landfill themselves. As well, some people use burn barrels in their yard (although this is becoming less common).

Waste Sites

This community is using its fourth waste site in only 50 years. The first two were small, informal sites. The third required mitigation. It is capped and not in use, although there are some derelict appliances and metal materials stacked along its edges. The fourth is the current one.

Current Waste Management Facilities

The site was established approximately 3 km northeast of the community, on the all-season road which leads to the community retreat area and to Stony Lake.

There are some improvements to the current Waste Management Facility (WMF) compared to the previous site:

  • Berms surround two cells
  • A rudimentary fencing system restricts some loose garbage from blowing 
away in the wind
  • Bulky metals are (mostly) excluded

However, many of the problems of the previous site are being repeated in the current WMF:

  • Unrestricted public access
  • No set hours
  • The gate is always left open
  • No signage informing residents of appropriate dumping areas
  • No separation of recyclables from the general waste stream
  • Frequent, uncontrolled burning of household and Northern Store waste
  • Deposited waste is not covered
  • Fencing not adequate to exclude wildlife

Derelict Equipment Area

As worrying as current waste operations and maintenance of the current waste facility are, the derelict equipment accumulated around and behind the Public Works Garage may be an even bigger problem.

In this area, hundreds of pieces of derelict equipment (and thousands of parts and small equipment) are scattered around an area at least double the size of the current Waste Management Facility.

Cleaning up this area is possible. In fact, many of the derelict trailers can be reused in a Transfer Station for recyclables. And much of the heavy equipment can be sold for parts or as scrap steel, recouping some of the cost of decommissioning and shipping.

However, actually cleaning up the area will take a number of years, and require sustained coordination between waste and recycling staff, works and operations staff, band administration leadership, and Chief and Council.

Reasons For Optimism

While SDFN clearly has significant waste challenges, there are good reasons for optimism:

  • Waste and recycling issue prioritized in Comprehensive Community Plan
  • A weekly garbage pickup system
  • Care of the camping and retreat area
  • The awareness that the community chose their current location

The Current Project

The Crew


This project was initiated in late 2017 SDFN Chief and Council in discussions with members of the Boke Consulting team. A Council Consensus Form was signed with Councillor Robert Powderhorn designated by the motion to take the lead on this project within Council.

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.

About half a dozen people responded to the initial invitation. 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.

In addition to picking up litter and separating it into recyclables and non-recyclables, the Crew collected discarded objects throughout the community (always taking care to check that they were, in fact, discarded) and took them out to the WMF and separated them out.

The Plan

 Year
area of focus1234
1Engaging the communityreview & discuss Planreview & improve Plan annually
2Reducing and reusingdevelop school curriculumwork with Northern Store to reduce packagingopen swap “store”review & improve
3Staffing and governancechoose staff; begin operations;

begin training

continue operations & training;
supplement staff with WOP participants & summer students;
develop mandate & governance
4Managing external agreementssecure agreementsprepare & ship materials;
review agreements annually
5Creating recycling & waste boxes and stationsset up Recycling Depot & Transfer Stationbuild & distribute household boxesrepair & replace community & household boxes, as needed
6Bringing WMF into complianceBurn Cage;
sub-cells
build fence & sub-cell separatorssub-cell cappingreview operations with governments
7Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management systemchoose, purchase and ship equipment & suppliesbegin in-vessel composting;
begin using recycling shuttle
repair or take apart derelict buildingsreview waste & recycling collection & management
8Cleaning up waste backlogset up vehicle decommissioningvehicle, equipment and appliance decommissioning, staging and shipping
9Monitoring current and legacy waste siteschoose monitoring companytake & send samples for analysis annually

Plan Details

Year 1
area of focusFallWinter
1Engaging the communityreview Plan with Chief & Councildistribute & discuss Plan with community
2Reducing and reusingbegin discussion with school staffdevelop school curriculum
3Staffing and governancechoose and hire staff; waste oil burner operator training;
vehicle decommissioning training;
safety training; SWANA operator training
4Managing external agreementssecure agreement with Thompson & scrap metal companiesbegin discussions with PROs
5Creating 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
6Bringing WMF into compliancebuild & use Burn Cagecreate sub-cells
7Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management systemchoose equipment & suppliesship equipment & supplies on winter road
8Cleaning up waste backlogset up Vehicle Decommissioning Stationset up oil burner
9Monitoring current and legacy waste sitesget quotes on monitoring costschoose monitoring company
Year 2
area of focusSpringSummerFallWinter
1Engaging the communitysolicit suggestions for improvement from communityreview Plan with communityimprove Plan
2Reducing and reusingImplement school curriculumwork with Northern Store & shippers to reduce packaging
3Staffing and governanceBearSmart trainingrecruit & manage summer students;  develop WOP programdecide mandate; recruit & manage WOP staffdecide governance structure; SWANA manager training
4Managing external agreementsconclude discussions with PROsprepare shipments to Thompson & PROsship to Thompson & PROs
5Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations set up Construction Shop;
build Platform & Ramp for Transfer Station
build Household Collection Boxesdistribute Household Collection Boxes
6Bringing WMF into complianceassemble materials for fence & sub-cell separatorsbuild fence & sub-cell separators;
set up permanent signa
separate materials currently in WMF
7Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management systemtrain operators on equipmentbegin using in-vessel composterbegin using recycling shuttleoffer organics recycling collection for households
8Cleaning up waste backlogbegin using waste oil burnerbegin vehicle decommission-ingassemble derelict appliances for shippingship vehicles & appliances
9Monitoring current and legacy waste sitesbegin monitoringsend samples for testing
Year 3
area of focusSpringSummerFallWinter
1Engaging the communitysolicit suggestions for improvement from communityreview Plan with communityimprove Plan
2Reducing and reusingreview school curriculumopen swap “store”make improvements to school curriculum, as needed
3Staffing and governancehazardous waste training;
management & governance training
recruit & manage summer students;  develop WOP programrecruit & manage WOP staff Part-time staff to take Landfill Operations training; review staffing & training
4Managing external agreementsreview first year of shippingmake changes as neededprepare shipments to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companiesship to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companies
5Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations Inventory Community Collection Bins & Household CollectionBoxesrepair & replace Community Collection Bins & Household Collection Boxes, as neededconsider improvements to Recycling Depot & Transfer Station
6Bringing WMF into complianceDevelop sub-cell capping planreview WMF with Govt of MB & Govt of Canadamake any needed improvementsship up supplies as needed
7Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management systemconduct inventory of all derelict buildingsrepair or take apart derelict buildingsoffer salvaged material to community members
8Cleaning up waste backlogcontinue vehicle & equipment decommissioningstage derelict vehicles & equipment for shippingship vehicles & equipment
9Monitoring current and legacy waste sitessend samples for testing
 Year 4
area of focusSpringSummerFallWinter
1Engaging the communitysolicit suggestions for improvement from communityreview Plan with communityimprove Plan
2Reducing and reusingreview school curriculumcontinue swap “store”make improvements to school curriculum, as needed
3Staffing and governancedetermine if additional training neededrecruit & manage summer students;  develop WOP programconduct management & governance review;
recruit & manage WOP staff
Implement additional training, if needed
4Managing external agreementsreview first year of shippingmake changes as neededprepare shipments to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companiesship to Thompson, PROs & scrap metal companies
5Creating Recycling & Waste Bins, Boxes & Stations Inventory Community Collection Bins & Household CollectionBoxesrepair & replace Community Collection Bins & Household Collection Boxes, as neededconsider improvements to Recycling Depot & Transfer Station
6Bringing WMF into complianceImplement call capping planconduct annual operations reviewmake changes as neededship up supplies as needed
7Implementing comprehensive collection & waste management systemreview waste & recycling collection & managementmake changes as needed
8Cleaning up waste backlogcontinue vehicle & equipment decommissioning – backlog to be cleared by year 4stage derelict vehicles & equipment for shippingship vehicles & equipment
9Monitoring current and legacy waste sitessend 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:

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.

It needs to be clear to all Band staff—and to the wider community—that the way waste has been dealt with in the past cannot continue, and sustainable waste management and recycling is a priority.

Creating Local Jobs

Implementing this Plan will increase local employment. (For details, see Staffing and Governance, below.)

Awareness

Mentoring And Community Involvment

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 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