The MARR (Manitoba Association of Regional Recyclers) held their 2023 forum on Tuesday October 24th and Wednesday October 25th at the Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg. Over 90 communities and organizations were present to discuss and learn about waste management practices across the province.
Our First Nations Waste Minimization team was very grateful to have the opportunity to present to over 170 attendees on the first day of the conference. Over the course of our presentation, we discussed the support services our organization can provide to First Nation communities looking to improve upon their current recycling and waste diversion practices. We also highlighted the acute challenges remote and northern First Nation communities face on their journey towards building a sustainable waste management system, along with the resources available to communities in our toolkit: ‘How to Reduce Waste- A guide for Manitoba First Nations and Northern Communities’. In addition to being given a platform to highlight these important resources and services, we also had an opportunity to table at the MARR forum. This was a great opportunity to network and hear what folks in other parts of the province are doing to engage their communities and educate their members about the dangers of invariably burning or open pit dumping their waste.
The 2023 MARR forum gave a voice not just to consultants and environmental organizations, but also to the front-line waste management workers themselves whose stories and experiences are crucial to understanding what effective waste management can look like in smaller, remote Manitoba communities. Kenneth Harry, the Landfill Manager from Black River First Nation, Bert McKay, Public Works Director from Pine Creek First Nation, and Waylon Mason, Assistant Director of St. Theresa Point First Nation Waste Management Program, all gave presentations on the diversion activities taking place in their communities and the challenges they have observed regarding community engagement, site design, staffing levels and more. It was incredibly invaluable and inspiring to hear how these folks are championing waste management in their respective communities.
At the conclusion of the MARR forum our First Nations Waste Minimization team hosted our second Waste Coordinators Meetup on Thursday October 26th. This get together featured over twenty waste management professionals from ten First Nation communities across Manitoba. This extra day of waste related discussion was intended to give participants an opportunity to further discuss the themes and topics shared at the MARR forum, while sharing personal experiences, challenges and highlights from their community’s waste management journey since our last meetup. The relationship building, sharing and tough question asking that took place was encouraging to see, and reflective of a greater community of individuals passionate about protecting their community members health, along with the health of their community’s lands and waters.
We would like to extend a sincere thank you to Mike Fernandes for organizing the MARR forum and giving our team a platform to connect with other communities and folks in the waste management field. We would also like to extend a big thank you to all of the First Nation waste management professionals that attended the 2-day MARR forum, as well as our Waste Coordinators event. Thank you all for the great work you do for your communities and your commitment to waste management.