What is the Delta Dialogue Network (DDN)?

The DDN is new SSHRC-funded partnership that was sparked by the desire to build on existing research and momentum within northern inland deltas. There is currently an emphasis on creating knowledge in these regions through research and monitoring programs. Wanting to capitalize on this direction, focusing on mobilizing knowledge emerged as a natural next step for researchers to take. The DDN will involve key partners from three inland delta communities in northern Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Manitoba:

1) Saskatchewan River and Delta (SKRD) located in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is represented by Ducks Unlimited Canada, Charlebois Community School, The Northern Village of Cumberland House, Cumberland House Cree Nation, and Opaskwayak Cree Nation;

2) Peace-Athabasca Delta in Alberta (PAD) is represented by the Peace-Athabasca Delta Ecological Monitoring Program; and

3) Slave River Delta (SLRD) in the Northwest Territories is represented by the Slave River and Delta Partnership, Aurora College and Aurora Research Institute.

The purpose of this partnership is to work within and across communities to improve our understanding of knowledge mobilization around issues of sustainability within northern inland deltas. By focusing on knowledge mobilization, we hope to build upon the best ways to share and create knowledge so it is useful for communities, decision-makers, and academics. Three research projects (one in each delta) will approach different aspects of this goal, including knowledge mobilization for youth, evaluation of existing knowledge mobilization strategies, and knowledge mobilization for policy and decision-makers

Why do we need a delta network?

  • A delta network is a group of communities, individuals and organizations that shares ideas to identify and solve problems of long-term environmental change in river deltas.

  • People respond in different ways to changes in their environments brought on by development, changes in the weather and seasons, and changes in how they work together.  River deltas are places where change is happening all the time but it can be sped up by human actions such as the building of dams. 

  • Communities in river deltas in Northern Canada have identified many common concerns, such as observing changes to the river system, losing traditional livelihoods, declining interest by youth in traditional activities, and worries about poor environmental quality owing to upstream activities. 

  • Many communities are working to better understand these changes, through programs such as community-based monitoring, but their findings and concerns are not always heard by decision-makers. Although there are also many academics researching similar changes in river deltas, they do not always share their results with the communities affected by these changes.

What can we gain from a delta network?

  • First, we can start to piece together knowledge that comes from different corners of society; knowledge like what we learn from our experiences, challenges to our value systems, and our intuitions that can be difficult to tell each other in ways that don’t involve being there in person and using dialogue. 

  • Second, we can share what we learn with others in ways that are true to problem-solvers’ beliefs, protect sacred beliefs, are helpful to those who need it, and are provided in a timely manner. 

  • Finally, with advances in technology, we can find ways to monitor environmental and social changes, and pass on knowledge to the next generation in ways that will engage them.

Our objectives are:

1) Bring knowledge together from existing monitoring programs so it can be better shared with decision-makers, communities, stakeholders, and youth in culturally appropriate ways;

2) Identify knowledge gaps within each delta and across all three;

3) Engage youth in the delta communities in collaborative and culturally appropriate ways to ensure knowledge continues with the next generation of delta stewards;

4) Bring knowledge forward to support local, regional and national decision-making related to sustainability challenges in delta communities;

5) Create an inland delta network that can share good practices and lessons learned about knowledge co-production and outcomes.