Adaptation and Extreme Events at the Local Level
Edited by E. Carina H. Keskitalo
Chapter 6: Cumberland House in the Saskatchewan River Delta: flood memory and the municipal response, 2005 and 2011
When a flood occurs in a remote, boreal and indigenous community that is culturally adapted to floods, what is the role of flood memory in defining the difference between resilience and vulnerability? This paper examines two particular flood events (2005 and 2011) in the Saskatchewan River Delta (SRD), a boreal floodplain which straddles the border between the two provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the western interior of Canada. Using the tools of place studies, we seek to understand and interpret the flood response of the community of Cumberland House in the province of Saskatchewan. The municipal emergency response to the flood of 2005 demonstrated local vulnerability. Residents were evacuated when the community was placed on a flood warning. The flood of 2011 indicated local resilience. Residents, engineers, and flood managers engaged in an emergent narrative that drew on historical flood memory to provide critical information on water in the delta. The two flood narratives at Cumberland House illustrate the variable roles that local social memory can play in understanding resilience to ecological disturbance. Where local knowledge is not adequately interpreted or included in management decisions, it may give rise to heightened vulnerability of the community, while more effective interpretation and inclusion may enhance community resilience in the face of flooding
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