Communities can use their Indigenous knowledge to define which animals, plants, and landscapes are important, and to develop management and monitoring strategies based on community protocols.

What We Do

We focus on community-led integration of traditional knowledge into focused research on specific animals, plants, and landscapes. By working closely with elders and traditional ecological knowledge holders we ensure that their expertise forms the basis for a community’s studies, plans, and assessments. Studies can involve on-the-ground site visits, interviews and focus groups, and Firelight’s mapping and GIS expertise is often key to our work. We also provide support to ensure that a community’s knowledge is recognized by wildlife managers and policy-makers, and integrated into wildlife management plans and other policies.


Firelight’s Ecology team brings together professional ecologists, biologists, and social scientists. We have decades of experience related to habitat conservation and stewardship planning, in-depth experience working with communities and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and a thorough understanding of how conservation policy decisions are made.

Capacity Building

We provide capacity building for communities to develop community-led environmental monitoring programs, using methods and indicators that respect community protocols for looking after the land, water, and animals.


Carolyn Whittaker
MSc Natural Resource Mgmt
Victoria Office
Phone: (250) 590-9017

We focus on the plant and animal species that are important to communities and their culture. Traditional knowledge holders provide a depth of knowledge that isn’t available through scientific systems. Collaring animals will tell you where they are now, but it won’t tell you where they were a hundred years ago.

Carolyn Whittaker
Ecology team lead

Example Projects

Sakâw Mostos: Mikisew Cree First Nation Indigenous Knowledge Study

A Mikisew Cree First Nation study to document Indigenous Knowledge of Sakâw Mostos (wood bison) (Spring 2015)

The relationship between the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) and sakâw mostos (wood bison, wood buffalo, or Bison bison athabascae) has existed since time immemorial. While wood bison are now rare and hard to find within MCFN lands, MCFN members maintain a rich set of social, cultural, and knowledge-based practices that rely largely on the presence of a single remaining wood bison herd within preferred and historically known hunting areas.

This report is the result of work conducted by MCFN with support from the Firelight Group, to document MCFN indigenous knowledge of bison, especially in the area of Ronald Lake, south of Lake Claire and in Wood Buffalo National Park.

The report includes information on the distribution of bison and Mikisew bison hunting within MCFN lands, the unique importance of bison to Mikisew members, seasonal habitat and preferred hunting areas, and conditions or requirements for the Mikisew bison hunt. The report also describes a set of positive and negative Mikisew parameters that may be useful in developing models for seasonal bison habitat.

Wood Bison Report
Níh boghodi: We are the Stewards of our Land

An Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) stewardship strategy for thunzea, et’thén and dechen yághe jere (woodland caribou, barren-ground caribou, and wood bison) (Spring 2012)

This project involved drafting a caribou and bison protection plan to address the restoration of barren-ground caribou habitat, dwindling woodland caribou herds in the vicinity of industrial activities near the oil sands, and the pressures on a small but culturally important bison herd near Poplar Point in Alberta. The strategy was based on interviews with community members completed as part of a traditional knowledge study in 2010 and was endorsed in meetings with Elders and with Chief and Council in 2012. The strategy identifies an area for caribou and bison protection from the Firebag River north to the provincial border, including the Birch Mountains. The plan also recommends a stewardship zone in the rest of the ACFN territory in Alberta with guidelines to reduce impacts on caribou habitat.

The project was funded by the Environment Canada Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk.

Stewards of Our Land
The Firelight Group

Research, policy, planning, negotiation, advisory, and capacity building services for Indigenous and local communities.


VICTORIA (250) 590-9017
VANCOUVER (604) 563-2245
EDMONTON (780) 760-1255
HAIDA GWAII (250) 559-7885 ex 228