Coastal Waters Monitoring Program

Fish in tank

The interaction between the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station (BNGS) and the environment has been an ongoing issue for the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) since its inception. Thermal effects and impingement/entrainment represent two major areas of concern. The context of these concerns is based in the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights held by SON and the responsibilities of SON as caretakers of the Land and Waters within their Territory.

It is important to recognize that the SON People hold a special relationship with the Water, and with all beings that inhabit the Water. This relationship is based on cultural ways of knowing, understanding, and living in this world in a good way; this relationship has existed since the beginning, since time beyond memory. SON relates with Water as that which brings and sustains life, both to the People and to all of Creation. It is this sacred relationship that makes it imperative that SON uphold their duty to care for and protect the Water.

It is in recognition of the sacredness of the Water that an understanding of the importance of these issues to SON, as well as SON’s own perceptions and evaluations of “risk” and “impact” become apparent. Recognition of SON’s valuation and perception of risk are essential as they inform others with different worldviews, culture, and connection to the Land and Waters in the Territory about how the SON develops its criteria and process for evaluating acceptable levels of impact.

After many years of engagement on this issue, it is clear that there are significant gaps in SON’s understanding of the existing environment and the interactions and impacts of BNGS on the ecology of Lake Huron (even at a local scale). SON aspires to understand these impacts better by becoming a key part of the design and implementation of more robust programs that assess and monitor the interactions and impacts related to thermal discharge, I/E and the ecology of Lake Huron. SON seeks an active role in monitoring, assessing, and interpreting data that are generated by future investigations.

What we do

Efforts to work toward common understanding of the impacts of development(s) and connecting with our Land and Waters have led SON and Bruce Power to work together to develop and implement the SON Coastal Waters Monitoring Program (CWMP). The CWMP will focus on creating space in our discussions for SON’s Traditional Knowledge and understanding of the environment and the interactions of BP’s operations with the coastal environments of the Territory. It will enhance SON’s ability to protect our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights as they relate to the land, waters, human and non-human beings of our Territory.

This program will be a valuable tool towards building on positive and productive engagements between SON, BP, and CNSC regarding BP’s on-going operations. Further, it will assist in building capacity at the community level, in engaging our community members, and ensuring Anishnaabe knowledge systems (including Anishnaabe science) are at the core of our understandings and interpretations.

Another important aspect of this work is the manner in which it will support SON in building a comprehensive and consistent baseline dataset of both quantitative data (numbers and measurement-based data) and qualitative knowledge or experience-based data that describes the environmental conditions of the Territory. No single or combined authority (MNRF, MOECP, Conservation Authorities, etc.) in SON Territory holds a comprehensive and consistent baseline dataset/inventory that accurately tracks changes to the ecological communities of Lake Huron, nor have any agencies considered the Traditional ecological and cultural knowledge of the SON Communities. SON’s goal is to amass its own comprehensive ecological database in order to develop a holistic understanding of the ecology and environments of the Territory and to monitor changes to those ecologies and environments. This will foster our ability to understand cumulative impacts, climate change, and make informed decisions about new developments in the Territory in a holistic and inclusive manner.

Monitoring components

  1. Fish Community

a) Nearshore Fish Community (Fyke, Hoop, Seine)

b) Larval Fish (Larval/Plankton Tow)

  1. Temperature Monitoring Stations
  2. Aquatic/Semi-Aquatic Vegetation and Wetland Community
  3. Water Quality
  4. SON Traditional Ecological and Cultural Knowledge


CWMP will build and maintain partnerships with community groups in both SON Communities, and with other environmental groups working in the Territory (e.g., Bagida-waad Alliance, Neyaashiinigmiing Source Water Protection, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Nature, Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, Lake Huron Coastal Centre, Parks Canada). Partnerships will enhance the program through additional training, funding, collaboration and data sharing opportunities.