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].

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. Before the start of this project, there was not a systematic or comprehensive approach to recycling in the community. 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. With the recent increase in capital and infrastructure projects in the community, some effort has been made to clean up this area.

Current Waste Collection Area

Plastic Blown Around

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

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.


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 in 2017 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. Any community member currently on Income Assistance was eligible to join the Crew.

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

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

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

Building Collection Bins From Found And Recycled Materials.


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 Cleanups and Recycling Drives to collect specific recyclables and derelict appliances.

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.