TSAG’s GIS Program and Online Resources


Upcoming GIS workshops for Alberta First Nations

Registration information for upcoming workshops in 2015
will be posted as it becomes available.


What is GIS?

GIS (geographic information system) is a powerful tool that can be used for relatively simple to highly complex mapping and analysis tasks in all different aspects of band operation. GIS platforms can help different different groups to work together and share the same information within a reserve. TSAG’s GIS program builds capacity for Alberta’s First Nations in GIS operation. This site explains TSAG’s current GIS training initiatives and has links to GIS training material from past courses.

Why learn GIS?

GIS capability in First Nation communities provides a wide range of benefits, allowing for better emergency response planning, effective land use planning, and more effective participation in consultation processes. GIS also facilitates improved environmental management on reserve such as looking at the distribution and management of traditionally used animals and species at risk.

With GIS you can create maps of band infrastructure, housing, natural resources, surface water, and culturally significant areas and understand the relationships between different features. GIS can be used by all different band departments, helping them work together more effectively.

TSAG GIS Workshops

TSAG provides two levels of GIS training, that cover basic GIS operations that range from basic data entry and map creation, GPS (global positioning system) integration, mapping, basic and more complex spatial analysis and program functionality. TSAG’s GIS courses are accredited through the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension, and count as electives toward the Environmental Resources Management Certificate program. TSAG’s GIS Program is funded through the Government of Alberta’s Aboriginal Economic Capacity Building Program and Environment Canada’s Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk.

Courses offered to date include:

  • Fundamentals of GIS (now replaced by Intermediate GIS)
  • Intermediate GIS
  • Intermediate GIS II
  • GIS for wildlife monitoring (pilot program 2014/2015). Please see TSAG’s species at risk page for more details.

Courses use the popular ArcGIS. Please see below for online tutorials on the use of QGIS, an equally powerful program that is cost-free.


Our Instructor

Erik Ellehoj has been teaching GIS courses at the University of Alberta for 17 years and TSAG-specific GIS courses for 8 years. Erik has worked with many First Nations in Alberta, other provinces/territories, and some outside North America. He has helped with TUS, infrastructure, health, housing, lands, and history/archival projects.

Other ways TSAG supports GIS for First Nations

Through the Asset Condition Reporting System (ACRS), TSAG collects building and road information for First Nation public works and for AANDC on a three year cycle. This information is managed with a GIS platform and the shape files can be provided to the First Nation by request. Additionally, TSAG can provide high resolution base imagery of reserve lands by request.

Links to other GIS resources and programs

Course Files

Intermediate GIS Course Slides

Intermediate GIS Version 2 Course Slides

This is a second version of Intermediate GIS, using examples from Treaty 8 and the Fort McMurray First Nation reserve.

Intermediate GIS II Course Slides

QGIS Training Videos

Opening Layers

Changing the Projection

Importing Data

GPS Data Points

GPS Lines

Digitizing Layers

Editing Vectors

KML Format

Attributes 1

Attributes 2

Attributes 3

Attributes 4

Attributes 5

Line Buffers 1

Line Buffers 2

Intersection Buffers

Point in Polygon Overlays

Point In Polygon Overlays Example

Counting Points in a Polygon

Adding Up Line Lengths

Union Overlays

Dissolving Polygons

Line in Polygon Overlays

For more information regarding GIS, please contact Amanda Doyle (adoyle@tsag.net) or call TSAG at 780-483-8601.