RCE Saskatchewan - 2023

Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre (HCEARC)
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre (HCEARC)
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Saskatchewan
Contributing organization(s) : 
Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Scott Lipsit, A/Academic Chair, Natural Resource Programs
Organizational Affiliation: 
Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Deanna Herman, A/Associate Dean, Schools of MEM/NRBE
Organizational Affiliation: 
Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Darrell Crabbe
Organizational Affiliation: 
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
Edward Mirasty
Organizational Affiliation: 
Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) (Affiliate)
Peter Friedrichsen
Organizational Affiliation: 
Prince Albert Model Forest and Saskatchewan First Nations – “Stewards of the Land” (Affiliate)
Al Bertschi, Executive Director
Organizational Affiliation: 
North American Wildlife Technology Association (Affiliate)
Doug Gibson
Organizational Affiliation: 
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation - youth conservation camps (Affiliate)
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Saskatchewan Polytechnic Statement of Organizational Values: Sustainability https://saskpolytech.ca/about/strategic-plan/
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Candle Lake, Saskatchewan
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre (HCEARC) is a multi-functional camp in the boreal forest at Candle Lake Saskatchewan. HCEARC is the only boreal field station in Saskatchewan that enables study and research in areas of conservation, sustainability, forestry, fisheries, wildlife, resource management and engineering. Socioeconomically, the education facility introduces hands on, conservation learning to local, northern & remote youth, conservation groups, environmentalists, Indigenous peoples, scientists and academia, Saskatchewan Polytechnic students and investigators of government and non-government agencies.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Current challenges to regional sustainability include climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, urbanization and economic austerity. The application of conservation, education and research are of critical importance to mitigate these challenges. The Hannin Creek Education & Applied Research Centre serves to educate and facilitate research the next generation of Resource Managers affiliated with Saskatchewan Polytechnic programs, Saskatchewan Wildlife youth education, First Nations and Metis, and other regional stakeholders.
We define sustainability as ‘the management of our resources in a manner which does not deplete their availability for future generations’. The HCEARC is located on a watershed in a remote area of the mid-boreal forest ecosystem of central Saskatchewan, surrounded by a Provincial Game Preserve with an abundance of natural forests, wildlife, birds and fish. For over 40 years, students have participated in hands-on applied learning in sampling, data collection, testing and analysis, laboratory and field experiences, simulated investigations, wilderness survival, and applied research.
Phase 1 of the SaskPolytech/SWF partnership was the renovation of the facilities with locally resourced materials and labour. Phase 2 was construction of a wet laboratory, which allows year-round study and applied research. Phase 3 is ongoing, with the development in 2022 of mitho askiy kiskēyihtamowin Indigenous Outdoor Learning Centre for Indigenous cultural experience and study. Next, a three-season greenhouse will focus on food security, using alternative energy sources. Students, guests and researchers have the opportunity develop skills and investigate environmental practice for effective management freshwater and forest ecosystems. The HCEARC is used as a base station for applied research applications in new technologies but is also a venue for traditional Indigenous cultural practices.
We hope researchers, graduates and conservationists from all cultures benefit from the facility to contribute a body of knowledge on world sustainability issues, including climate change, water resources and environmental management. The facility's unique role as the only boreal forest field station in Saskatchewan means that it is well-positioned to support vital research on sustainability in a vulnerable region and society.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Students access the HCEARC in the spring, fall and winter, which allows them to experience first-hand the demands of a career that requires working outdoors year-round in challenging conditions. New technologies include remote sensing with uncrewed aerial vehicles, GIS, and sophisticated hydro acoustic equipment. Hydroacoustics broaden students’ capabilities to include sonar data and its applications in aquatic communities. The practical training and applied research provided in this field-based setting offers the most immediate and comprehensive route for delivery of leading-edge knowledge and skills. More traditional skill training includes winter survival, trapping, fishing and canoeing. Beginning summer 2023, some native plants will be labeled with QR codes that allow access to Cree and English explanations of the plants’ Indigenous cultural significance, providing learners access to “walking curriculum” and contributing to the digitization of Indigenous knowledge.
Size of academic audience: 
Several hundred students attend HCEARC annually in formal education activities from public school camps to post-secondary learning with Saskatchewan Polytechnic Natural Resource Technology programs.
Academic programs include Integrated Resource Management, Resource and Environmental Law, Geographic Information Science, Civil Technologies: Water Resources, Recreation and Community Development, Environmental Engineering Technology.
Additional user groups:
• Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC)
• University of Saskatchewan, Global Institute for Water Security;
• Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Wildfire Management Branch;
• Nature Saskatchewan;
• Government of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada;
• Saskatchewan Co-Operative Association;
• Prince Albert Model Forest and Saskatchewan First Nations - ‘Stewards for The Land’;
• Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation - youth conservation camps and women’s outdoor camps;
• North American Wildlife Technology Association

The centre allows visitors to connect with natural ecosystems in activities involving water resources, forestry, wildlife and Truth and Reconciliation. Visitors gain a deeper understanding and value for natural systems and sustainability issues. The laboratory facilitates data collection, sample analysis, applied research and hands-on learning for students, managers and investigators; the Indigenous encampment facilitates land-based learning and dissemination of Indigenous knowledge.
Lessons learned: 
The HCEARC has enhanced the educational experience of hundreds of learners and researchers. It provides a venue to accommodate researchers from around the world to explore the boreal forest. What began as a primitive field camp that facilitated education in natural sciences now also provides an outdoor learning experience that lasts a lifetime. Partnerships (Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and Saskatchewan Polytechnic) and inclusion of all stakeholders provide a much more robust effort for environmental learning, employment and sustainability. Work with Prince Albert Grand Council on cultural programming and Truth and Reconciliation brings a key connection to the local community.
Key messages: 
Ecologically speaking, we know that habitat is key for healthy populations. HCEARC provides a habitat for environmental education and understanding. Likewise, communities rich in partnerships/relationships are robust and more resilient to environmental challenge. HCEARC is a hub for those committed to conservation, education, sustainability and dissemination of Indigenous knowledge.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
HCEARC was the host site for the 2019 RCE Saskatchewan ESD Recognition Event. Hosting the event required planning with the HCEARC which commenced in October 2018 culminating in the event on May 8, 2019.
The program for the event is available here:
The full video of the event is available here (go to 2019 awards ceremony link):
HCEARC is a 2020 "Acknowledged Flagship Project" of RCE Saskatchewan through the Global RCE Awards program for its contribution to "SDG #15: Life on Land".
HCEARC is included the UNU-IAS online publication “Engaging Communities for Biodiversity Conservation” (p. 68) https://collections.unu.edu/view/UNU:8736#viewAttachments
HCEARC operates as a partnership funded by Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. Third-party activities are supported by various funding sources, including the federally funded Stewards for the Land program.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Hannin Creek gate.jpg (182.95 KB) Hannin Creek Education & Applied Research Centre entry gate and lab building Sask Polytech
Image icon Hannin Creek bridge.jpg (242.57 KB) Bridge over Hannin Creek, one of the waterways accessed for applied learning Sask Polytech
Image icon Hannin Creek students.jpg (422.38 KB) Students from Sask Polytech Natural Resource Technology programs, in the outdoors Sask Polytech
Image icon ribboncutting.jpg (1.18 MB) Opening of mitho askiy kiskēyihtamowin Indigenous Outdoor Learning Centre Matthew Toon
Image icon moonlighttipis.jpg (3.14 MB) Three of the 4 mitho askiy kiskēyihtamowin tipis under a full moon Hamilton Greenwood
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: