Projects: Bras d’Or Lakes CEPI

Project Brief

The Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI) is a fourteen year-old, intersectoral partnership focused on the health and wellbeing of the Bras D’Or lakes watershed, including human communities. CEPI was formalized in 2005 when representatives from all four levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal, and First Nations), who share responsibility for the management and protection of the Bras D’Or Lakes, signed the Bras D’Or Charter. The initiative has been guided by principles of two-eyed seeing since its inception. The charter was generated during a collaborative workshop in 2004 and includes the following statements:

Vision: To lead a unique collaboration of partners that incorporates both traditional Mi’kmaq and western perspectives in order to foster a healthy and productive Bras D’Or Lakes watershed ecosystem.

Objective: A balance of environmental, social, cultural, and institutional objectives will be pursued to ensure the health and sustainable use of the Bras D’Or Lakes watershed ecosystem.

Purpose: To develop and overall management plan for the Bras D’Or Lakes watershed ecosystem, and to facilitate it’s implementation by government and other stakeholders.

This project aims to foster and deepen reconciliation amongst CEPI members and stakeholders. It supports CEPI’s goals to establish a renewed and nuanced commitment to two-eyed seeing within the organization and to explore possibilities for sustainable economic development such as renewable energy. Furthermore, the CEPI project meets key objectives of A Shared Future and serves as an exemplar to other program partners, projects, and others throughout Canada.

Project Update

Mary Beth has been attending a variety of CEPI Steering Committee and Task Force meetings. In June, she attended the Climate Change Adaptation Forum. It was co-hosted by the Bras d’Or Lakes Biosphere Reserve Association and the CEPI. The three days were spent between Baddeck, Wagmatcook, and Sydney. Senator Dan Christmas was a guest speaker talking about the CEPI model. In all the sessions, discussions centred around local evidence of climate change and implications, as well as co- governance and Two-Eyed-Seeing.

Mary Beth had a chance to meet with Heather to talk about the project while she was in Sydney in July. As well, Tanaysha Sack is working with Mary Beth for the summer again on a part-time basis. Mary Beth is interviewing this week for an assistant project coordinator who will hopefully work with her for the next year.

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Mary Beth Doucette Presenting on CEPI project. Photo credit her own.

Same people as above. Photo credit Heather Castleden

Bras D’Or Lakes. Photo Credit Mary Beth Doucette.


  • Understand the possibilities, pitfalls, and complexities of implementing two-eyed seeing within a long-term intersectoral partnership focused on human-Land health;
  • Foster reflexivity, co-learning, and reconciliation within CEPI, by deepening CEPI members’ understanding of two-eyed seeing, and strengthening their (our) capacity and commitment to enact two-eyed seeing;
  • Support interested L’nu Communities in Unama’ki, and within CEPI, to imagine (through two-eyed seeing) next steps towards renewable energy development;
  • Consider gendered dimensions of research within the context of CEPI. As our project Elder told us, in L’nu culture and communities, gender was not typically an attribute or identity marker that was central to co-learning, and explained that rather than gender, ‘gifts’ of an individual was a more salient factor in a person’s identity and interrelations.

Project Team


Mary Beth Doucette, Lisa Young, Stan Johnson

Advisory Committee

Elder Albert Marshall, Cheryl Barttlett


Bras D’Or Lakes Community and Environmental Planning Initiative