Kanaka Bar’s journey with climate change began with both awareness and acceptance of climate change. Kanaka intuitively knows that the impacts they are facing in their community (forest fires, flooding, air quality, smoke inversion layers, wind events, power failures, changed precipitation patterns and heat) will increase in frequency, duration and intensity with even greater adverse impacts forecasted on local area systems (food, electrical, transportation etc.). To further understand the impacts on their community, Kanaka undertook a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. They applied a three phase strategic planning process that relied on local input (community engagement), traditional knowledge, and a scientific assessment of climate change impacts. Examples of community member observations was gathered at a community engagement sessions and included: lower quantity and quality of berries and other plants; increased flooding of roads, basements, septic fields and culvert during spring months; and poor air quality associated with forest fires. A group discussion facilitated in 2018 identifying and developing an inventory of community values and concerns. Information was presented to the community on observed and future climate change projections. For example, data from the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) and ClimateBC was used to produce regional and site specific projections to the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s time periods, which showed projections focused on temperature, precipitation, and streamflow. The results indicated that future changes may include: warmer year-round temperatures; more precipitation in the spring, fall and winter and less in the summer; less snow and more rain; more frequent and intense storm events; changes in surface water resources; continued stressed on salmon populations; changes in traditional foods; and an increase risk of forest fire. Combining this information with the community feedback, areas were identified that indicate the greatest vulnerabilities and highest community priorities, including: water resources; forest fires; traditional foods; access roads.
Kanaka Bar and its membership undertook the Kanaka Bar Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in 2018 to understand its vulnerabilities, prepare for a community transition, and develop adaptation strategies to protect its environment and economy from future climate change impacts. Kanaka Bar Indian Band is located 18 kilometers South of Lytton in the BC’s Fraser Canyon region, on the western border of the Thompson Okanagan and is known as ‘Canada’s Hot Spot’ which is consistently one of the hottest places in BC. They are one of fifteen Indigenous communities that make up the Nlaka’pamux Nation. Kanaka Bar’s ancestors knew that to survive, one needs air, water, food, shelter, energy and communications. With these elements in mind and connecting today’s science with traditional knowledge, Kanaka Bar has developed programs, plans, projects, and initiatives to ensure that they will be self-sustaining and resilient, and thus able to maintain all 6 foundational physiological elements for generations to come. Kanaka Bar’s climate change journey starts with awareness and community engagement. Kanaka Bar has been observing changes around them like temperature ups and downs, precipitation irregularities, increased droughts, weird wind, higher wildfire threats and loss of wild salmon. Risks, probabilities, and consequences were written down in a report which also includes adaptation strategies focused on Kanaka Bar’s key vulnerabilities, water supply, forest fires, access to traditional foods and community access roads. The list of adaptation strategies was also written as “High Priority” and “Secondary Priority” to help support Kanaka Bars allocation of resources (people, time, technology, and money) towards measures that best support community resilience. Throughout their journey, Kanaka, as a collective, utilizes existing technology to gather site specific data, analyses and compare to forecasted “risks, probability and consequences” and implement transition and adaption strategies and ensuring Kanaka story is shared so that others can learn and make their own path forward.