CIER was founded in 1994 by a small group of First Nation leaders from across Canada who recognized the need to create their own technical, non-political, education and research-oriented organization that would assist Indigenous peoples to build their capacity to solve environmental problems affecting their lands and resources. We received federal non-profit corporate status in 1995, and became a registered charity in 2000 (charitable registration number 89367 8235 RR0001). Since our inception, we have worked on over 450 environment-focused projects with over 300 First Nations across Canada.
CIER's first major initiative was an innovative environmental education program. This was a University accredited program, which combined indigenous and western knowledge systems for environmental protection and management. Through this program, the students learned 1. To identify environmental problems in First Nation lands & territories; 2. To devise and implement solutions and preventive measures; and 3. To utilize the tools of environmental impact assessment and auditing, and the creation of environmental monitoring systems. 4. To identify and understand the environmental and indigenous laws and policies that can be used to sustainably develop and protect indigenous lands and waters. The first 18 month program began in February, 1997 and the fourth program ended March, 2001. In all 4 programs, a total of 51 students from First Nations across the country graduated. Most work in the environmental field, and many have gone on to post-graduate education and senior positions within their community, government and the private sector.
In 1996, we proposed the concept of a national First Nation centre of environmental excellence in our document "A First Nation Environmental Vision Statement and Self-Government Implementation Strategy". CIER engaged with First Nations and others over a two year period (2004 - 2006) as part of the Environmental Education (EEV) project. We engaged in a research process to further this concept and guide us as we work to realise our vision of environmental excellence. During this period, we:
The findings of our research can be found in the following documents: