Willow Lake Metis Local 780

With a combined experience of over 100 years in engineering, information management, and forestry, Certes Applied and Natural Sciences Ltd. (Certes) provides resource consulting from its Kamloops office to public and private sector clients all over Western Canada, including Indigenous communities. Recently, we were able to help the Willow Lake Metis Local 780 in Anzac, Alberta, by conducting a Traditional Land Use Study (TLUS) to assess and determine the impacts of the proposed Imperial Corner Project, as well as the overall capacity of the land to sustain multiple uses into the future, in order to guide future land-use decisions.

The Willow Lake Metis are one of several Metis Locals in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB),located south of Fort McMurray where land use faces many competing interests. The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is formally organized into six regions, with each region containing a number of registered Métis Locals. The RMWB lies within MNA Regions I and V, and includes Locals 125 (Fort Chipewyan),63 (Fort McKay),1935 and 2020 (both in Fort McMurray),780 (Anzac),and Local 193 (Conklin).

Certes understands that there are intricate relationships between Indigenous culture, history, economies, environments and visions for the future. We know every healthy, strong community requires safe and sufficient infrastructure, and access to quality education, healthcare, social services and land. By conducting studies that consider these important factors, we work with communities like the Willow Lake Metis to lay the foundation for long-term success through participatory, big-picture planning targeted at enhancing all areas of community life.

The objectives of the Willow Lake Land Use Study and project specific report were to document the traditional knowledge of the Willow Lake Metis Community so that it cannot be lost; to use the community members’ stories and knowledge as a part of the community cultural process; and, to assist in decision making into the future that will ultimately support its survival as a Métis community. To achieve this, we:

1. Documented and reported on the capacity of the land to sustain the Willow Lake Métis Community’s land use;
2. Documented Willow Lake Metis Local 780 genealogy and historical use of the land using information obtained and stored on a comprehensive database;
3. Documented current Willow Lake Metis land use through interviews and a harvesting camp;
4. Determined potential impacts of the proposed project on Willow Lake Metis land use and interests;
5. Provided the Traditional Land Use Study and project specific information for input and review to the Willow Lake Metis Local for approval of all documentation; and
6. Submitted the Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Study and project specific report information to the proponent as part of the regulatory requirements.

Certes strives to enhance our clients’ administrative faculty and resource management capacity through projects, and programs that strengthen the overall socio-economic fabric of the community. Our approach emphasizes capacity building and supporting the communities and their members. We take great pride in the relationships we have with our First Nations clients who we work closely with to capture their desired outcomes and vision for the future.