This Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge Study, also commonly referred to as MEKS or a TEKS, was developed by Membertou Geomatics Consultants for the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co Ltd on behalf of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE). In January 2008, the Province of Nova Scotia announced that Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co Ltd. had been awarded the opportunity to construct a tidal energy testing and research facility in the Minas Basin, known as the Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Facility. This Facility will be managed by a non-profit corporation called FORCE.
The objectives of this study are twofold;
- to undertake a broad MEKS study for the Bay of Fundy Phase I Area as it may relate to future renewable energy projects i.e. wind, tidal and wave, specifically in Phase 1 area of the Bay of Fundy (as identified in MGC Proposal - Minas Channel and Minas Basin), and
- to undertake a more focused MEKS review specific to the Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Project area which would consider the land and water area potentially affected by the project, identify what is the Mi’kmaq traditional use activity that has or is currently taking place within the Project Site and Study Area and what Mi’kmaq ecological knowledge presently exists in regards to the Project Site and Study Area.
In order for to the Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Project to proceed with the implementation of the project, the project proponent must receive required approvals from the involved regulatory departments, which involves the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) for the federal environmental assessment. The Proposed Project is being assessed under a Joint Federal - Provincial Assessment Process and the Environmental Assessment Document was registered with Nova Scotia Department of the Environment under the NS Environmental Assessment Regulations on June 17, 2009. This MEKS has been developed as a mechanism to ensure that Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge and use of the Study Area is included in the environmental data and considered in the development of the Environmental Management Plan and Environmental Monitoring Plan if the project proceeds.
In order to ensure accountability and ethic responsibility of this MEKS, the MEKS development has adhered to the “Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge Protocol”. The protocol is a document that has been established by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, which speaks to the process, procedures and results that are expected of a MEKS.
The Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge Study consisted of two major components:
• Mi’kmaq Traditional Land and Resource Use Activities, both past and present,
• A Mi’kmaq Significance Species Analysis, considering the resources that are important to Mi’kmaq use.
The Mi’kmaq Traditional Land and Resource Use Activities component utilized interviews as the key source of information regarding Mi’kmaq use in the Project Site, Study Area and the Phase I Overall Area. The Project Site is located on the seabed in Minas Passage in the vicinity of Black Rock (west of Cape Sharp) on the Parrsboro (north) side of the Passage which includes the three turbines that will be located due west of Black Rock, approximately 1.25 km from the shoreline which will be installed on the seabed in approximately 30 - 45 m depth at low tide and an on-shore facility in the municipality of the County of Cumberland. The Study Area, is a 10 kilometer radius zone around the Project Site which encompasses Parrsboro and Greenhill, up into the Cobequid Mountains to south west of Lake Road Crooner, over Glasgow Mountain to Port Greville, crossing the Minas Basin and including Blomidon Peninsula from Cape Split to South Scots Bay to Cape Blomidon. The Phase I Overall Area, known as the Phase I Area, covers a part of the Chignecto Bay, the Bay of Fundy, Greville Bay, Minas Channel, and a large portion of the Minas Basin. This area also included:
• to the south west: Berwick, Morden, and Dempseys Corner
• to the south east: Hantsport, Horton, Cheverie, and the Avon River
• to the north east: Parrsboro, Green Hill, Moose River, New Canaan
• to the north west: New Yarmouth, West Apple River, and Advocate harbour.
Numerous interviews were undertaken by the MEKS Team with Mi’kmaq hunters, fishers and plant gatherers, who shared with the team the details of their knowledge of traditional use activities. The interviews were undertaken during the months of June and July 2009, whereby Mi’kmaq were shown topographical maps of the Project Site, Study Area and the Phase I Area. Those interviewed were then asked to identify where they undertake their activities as well as to identify where and what activities were undertook by other Mi’kmaq. All interviews were recorded with permission of the interviewee. If permitted by the interviewee, their information was incorporated into the GIS data. These interviews allowed the team to develop data that reflects the most recent Mi’kmaq traditional use in this area. All interviewee’s names are kept confidential and will not be released by MGC as part of a consent form between MGC and the interviewee to ensure confidentiality.
The data gathered was also considered in regards to Mi’kmaq Significance whereby each Species identified was analyzed through the consideration as food/sustenance resources, medicinal/ceremonial plant resources and art/tools resources. These resources were also considered for their availability or abundance in the areas listed above, and their availability in areas adjacent or in other areas outside of these areas, their use, and their importance, with regards to the Mi’kmaq.
This Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge Study has also gathered, documented and analyzed the traditional use activities that have been occurring in the Project Site, Study Area and Phase I Area by undertaking interviews with individuals who practice traditional use or know of traditional use activities within these areas and reside in the nearby Mi’kmaq communities.
Based on the data documentation and analysis, it was found that the Mi’kmaq have historically undertaken traditional fishing activities in the Project Site, and that this practice continues to occur today. Commercial Fishing and harvesting activities by members of the Annapolis Valley First Nation was found to have occurred and is still occurring today. Lobster, Mackeral and Herring are currently, and have been in the recent past, fished for commercial purposes while Lobster and Halibut are currently being fished for harvesting.
Based on the data documentation and analysis, it was concluded that the Mi’kmaq have historically undertaken traditional use activities in the Study Area, and that this practice continues to occur today. These activities involve the harvesting of fish species, plants and animals; all of which occurs in varying locations throughout the Study Area and at varying times of the year.
Flounder, Lobster and Mackeral was found to be the most fished species in the Study Area. Halibut, Haddock, Herring, Perch, Periwinkle, Trout, Cod, Clams and Mussels were also found to a somewhat lesser degree. Deer, Rabbit and Partridge were found to be the most hunted species within Study Area. Blueberries, Apples and Strawberry were the most harvested plant species that was found within the Study Area.
Bear, Beaver, Bobcat, Deer, Lynx, Muskrat, Otter, Partridge, Pheasant, Porpoise, Rabbit and Raccoon were found to be hunted within the Study Area with no specific species identified as the majority species harvested. Dulse was the only plant identified that is harvested by the Mi’kmaq in the Study Area.
A historical site, a historical fishing area and a reported burial site was also identified through the interview process within the Study Area.
Phase I Area:
Based on the data documentation and analysis, it was concluded that the Mi’kmaq have historically undertaken traditional use activities in the Phase I Area, and that this practice continues to occur today. These activities involve the harvesting of fish species, plants and animals; all of which occurs in varying locations throughout the Phase I Area and at varying times of the year.
Lobster, Mackeral, Flounder, and Herring were found to the most fished species in the area both currently and traditionally. Deer, Rabbit and Partridge were found to be the most hunted species within Phase 1 Area, both currently and traditionally. Blueberries, Apples and Strawberry were the most harvested plant species that was found within the Phase 1 Area.
Several archaeological sites, historical sites, legend areas and a reported burial site were also identified within the Phase 1 Area through the interview process and historical documents.