The Esgenoôpetitj Watershed Association (EWA) is a Non-Profit First Nations Organization first established in 2016 with the help of Esgenoôpetitj First Nation Leadership, First Nations, Stakeholders, the Tabusintac Watershed Association, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Environment and Local Government of New Brunswick.
Water Quality Monitoring
Water quality monitoring is a very important tool that we use to keep track of potential problem areas within the Esgenoôpetitj watershed. The EWA began water quality monitoring within the Esgenoôpetitj Watershed in the summer of 2017 to get a baseline data set to track changes into the future and determine the overall health of the watershed. We have a number of sites where we have established historical data and when needed we add new sites to our aquatic monitoring program.
Water samples are collected and sent to RPC lab in Fredericton, NB which is a certified lab and they analyze for E.coli, nutrients and metals. This data is used to determine if any parameters are within safe or unsafe levels.
Our water quality samples are analyzed for multiple parameters and are discussed more in detail within the annual report submitted to the NB Department of Environment and local Governments.
The Community Aquatic Monitoring Program (CAMP) is a program launched by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in 2003 as a pilot program along the Gulf of the St. Lawrence estuaries with sites located in NB and Nova Scotia.
This programs helps to monitor the health of the estuaries during the summer months of June until August.
There are 2 sampling sites located within the Esgenoôpettij Watershed where the EWA partners with Miramichi Envionmental Asessement Committee and Comittee Sauvons Nos Rivière.
Environment and Climate Change Canada manages the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN), a program that uses insects in rivers to assess the health of freshwater ecosystems in Canada. The ABVBS field team has been certified to conduct macroinvertebrate sampling.
Data from the CABIN inventories were submitted to the Canadian Biomonitoring Network database, located on the Government of Canada site. The data can be shared with other groups and eventually water quality reports can be generated from the website.
Data collection took place for the Shediac and Scoudouc rivers from 2016 to 2018. When enough sites are assessed in the Maritimes, we will be able to compare the data with reference sites to determine the state of health of the watercourses.
Eelgrass is an important component of the ecosystem of the Miramichi Bay/Burnt Church river. It serves as shelter and food for a wide variety of fishes, crustaceans and shellfish. In addition, this marine plant helps filter the water column and stabilize sediment, thereby creating a buffer zone between land and water.
Since 2020, the Esgenoôpetitj Watershed Association has established one eelgrass monitoring area in the Miramichi Bay. We use protocols established by SeagrassNet as part of a worldwide study.
SeagrassNet is an ecological monitoring program that investigates and documents the status of seagrass resources and the threats to this important and imperiled marine ecosystem. The program was launched in 2001 in the Western Pacific and now includes more than 126 sites in 33 countries, with a global monitoring protocol and web-based data reporting systems.
The study area in the Esgenoôpetitj Watershed will help determine if there are changes in the eelgrass bed over the long term. This project is coordinated by the Southern Gulf of Saint Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability as part of Atlantic Eelgrass Monitoring Consortium in partnership with the Tabusintac Watershed Association and The Miramichi Environmental Assessment Committee.
Indigenous Green School Program
The IGSP is an indigenous led, hands-on, curriculum-linked, environmental educational program developed to give children and youth the skills and resources they need to learn about Mother Earth and ways to help protect it by encouraging environmental stewardship through fun activities while also learning about Indigenous and Traditional Ecological Knowledge through community elders.
The focus during this year’s project is to create and implement the IGSP by working with the Esgenoôpetitj and Tabusintac Middle School (Grade 6-8) students, teachers, staff and elders to help create 4 Educational Kits within the program.
The IGSP is made of 4 environmental educational kits. There is the Tree Planting
Educational Kit, which includes the students learning about the different types of trees from our
region, their importance and how to plant trees. The second one is the Erosion Educational Kit
where students will learn about coastal erosion happening in their area, what erosion is, how to
use current technologies, measure erosion over time and ways to mitigate erosion.
The Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge Educational Kit involves Tabusintac and Esgenoôpetitj middle school students learning about the history of our region from an elders or knowledge holder. And finally, the Bird House Educational Kit includes learning about different types of birds from our region, why their important, threats and how to build a bird house.
A climate change adaptation planning project is an assessment of risks and a series of actions taken to lessen the effects of climate change within our community.
Community members have been experiencing climate change effects for quite some time. Some of these effects include seasons shifting and changes in animal movement patterns.
Esgenoôpetitj is located on the coast of the gulf of St.Lawrence and has the potential to be impacted through sea-level rise and coastal erosion. Water levels are expected to rise due to an increase in precipitation caused by climate change (Government of New Brunswick, 2021) Water levels are a big concern due to the number of rivers and brooks flowing through Esgenoopetitj, holding riverine and coastal habitats. These effects can impact community members' abilities to fish and hunt and may alter sacred grounds used for gathering medicines and holding traditional and ceremonial practices.
Our team will be working closely with community members to analyze and address areas of concerns and vulnerabilities in Esgenoôpetitj. We will hold events and meetings with Esgenoôpetitj and surrounding communities to gain information and a better understanding of climate change and flood risks through Indigenous knowledge.