Sayisi Dene Waste & Recycling

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 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 Burn Cage;
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 begin 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
6 Bringing WMF into compliance build & use Burn Cage create sub-cells
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 set up Construction Shop;
build Platform & Ramp for Transfer Station
build Household Collection Boxes distribute Household Collection Boxes
6 Bringing WMF into compliance assemble materials for fence & sub-cell separators build fence & sub-cell separators;
set up permanent signa
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; review staffing & 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
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 call 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:

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