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How Drone Technologies Can Assist Indigenous Nations

Written by Nicolaus Waddell

Indigenous communities across Canada are rapidly growing and expanding in their capacity to govern their own people and lands paving the way for increasing Indigenous sovereignty across Turtle Island. I have recently become aware of and started exploring the opportunities for using aerial photography drones to meet ecological needs of Indigenous Nations across Canada. The use of remote piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) allows for the study, protection, and management of the lands, wildlife, and natural resources spread throughout territorial lands.

Flying quadcopter drones outfitted with different types of cameras, or payloads, can be flown to capture remote pictures or data to be later processed and used for specific tasks. These pictures can provide Nations with highly detailed photogrammetric (measurable) maps and 3D models to get a better idea of what’s happening on their lands.

Maps can be used to inspect the lands for potential unmarked cultural sites, analyze forest structure, volume, and health, or with land development in all stages of resource management. Thermal imaging can be used to track wildlife while LiDAR creates detailed 3D model point clouds using a laser beam combined with your regular RGB colour picture camera.

If outdoor tourism and marketing are your goals, drones can be used to capture stunning footage of lakes, mountains, landscapes, beaches, villages, campgrounds, hiking trails, and other scenic attractions to drive traffic to specific areas.

I think it’s important for Indigenous Nations across Canada, including my own Metis Nation, to take control of territorial lands. This will help decolonize Canada by providing a more Indigenous lens when it comes to the use, protection, or management of lands of Canada.

Climate change is also a reason to be studying and monitoring our earth around us so that we can find solutions to fix some of the problems that are starting to arise because of global warming. Drones are electronic and more environmentally friendly than renting a helicopter. They are also safer by eliminating the need for a human to be in harm’s way when trying to complete inspection or surveying jobs.

As this technology continues to decrease in price, more experimenting and new use for the equipment is developing such as tree planting and goods delivery in emergency situations. I am interested to see other developments in this technology over the next decade and use it to monitor our world around us so we can prevent climate change from happening.


Nicolaus Waddell is the owner Eagle Eye Drone Company.

Eagle Eye Drone Company is a Vancouver Island based drone (RPAS) services provider. We specialize in drone photography & video services including photogrammetry in RGB and LiDAR, orthomosaics, 3D mapping, surveying, inspections, and creative content creation.

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