Researcher heads to Saskatchewan community to study climate change

Priscilla Wolf
A researcher with the David Suzuki Foundation was in one of the oldest settlements in Saskatchewan to track the effects of climate change on the community and found that there are many issues facing people there.

Priscilla Settee is in Cumberland House, 506 kilometres northeast of Regina, a mainly Cree and Métis community.

“My family came from here and its so amazing to be back so amazing to be back,” she told APTN News. “My job here is to interview trappers and to talk about the trapping life that they had I the past before the big dam was put in and talk about what it meant culturally and economically and personally community wise family wise.”

Settee talked to people like Mary Louise Carriere, who described how trapping was decades ago.

“I loved when they killed a lot of muskrats they were good at that time too they were fat and we took the meat and we smoked it I used to enjoy that very much,” she said.

When she skinned muskrats she made five cents per pelt – or about $5 a day.

That was 60 years ago.

Now she says, things have changed.

“A lot of difference there’s not much in trapping now,” she said. “Even the last time I was out there the water kind of smells.

“It affects the muskrats and they taste different too they are not good to eat.”

Clifford Carriere said trapping is how he makes his livelihood.

His mother started teaching him the ropes when he was a child.

“Weasels were the first ones we were catching,” he said. “Weasels and also squirrels so that’s where I got my training and education how to look after them cut them open and then to skin them prepare them shape them form the and how to dry them.”

Clifford Carriere said Muskrat and other game including moose have declined.

He said even 20 years ago the animals were abundant around Cumberland House.

“As far as the number of animals that were around there were numerous, all over the place,” he said.

“Wherever you went you could see tracks. Wherever there were muskrats alive all other lives were abundant.”

Trappers say the community has been affected by clear cutting and dams in the Cumberland House area.

And climate change is resulting in thinner ice and milder winters.

“The earth is warming up its getting warmer quicker the more that these people clear the land to the north and they expose the ground its heating up the earth,” he said.

This is Settee’s third trip for her fellowship with the foundation.

She has until 2020 to finish her study.

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