Indigenous youth from Kluane First Nation to visit Western University

A documentary research team, including two Indigenous youth from Kluane First Nation, will visit Western University on Wednesday (March 30) to test mercury levels in fish collected from their own community.

The Kluane First Nation Government is based at Burwash Landing, a small community of approximately 95 people located on the shores of Kluane Lake (the largest lake in the Yukon Territory) and along the Alaska Highway.

The two Indigenous youth will be accompanied by a youth councilor from Kluane First Nation and Norma Kassi, Director of Indigenous Collaboration for the Arctic Institute of Community Based Research. Indigenous filmmaker Tookie Mercredi, formerly of CBC News and Discovery Channel, is filming the visit as part of a documentary produced by Kassi titled, “Nourishing Our Future.”

Brian Branfireun, Canada Research Chair in Environment & Sustainability, is hosting the visit and will lead the mercury level sample testing at Western’s Biotron Experimental Climate Change Research Centre. Following a laboratory tour at 12:30 p.m., the testing is expected to begin at 12:45 p.m.

Together with Kluane First Nation, Arctic Institute of Community Based Research, and the Dän Keyi Renewable Resource Council, University of Waterloo biology professor Heidi Swanson and MSc student Nelson Zabel are conducting the first comprehensive contaminants study of Kluane Lake. Branfireun, also an associate professor in Western’s Department of Biology and director of the Biotron, is a collaborator in the study.

The visit will also include a welcome, orientation and traditional smudging ceremony by Western’s Indigenous Services, as well as a tour of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.

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