Welcome to the Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders Project. Please continue to read the Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders series.

As Manitoba's boreal forests consist of a primarily Aboriginal population, conservation efforts benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience of individuals who have lived and breathed community life in Manitoba's northern boreal. We believe this project, through the sharing of personal interest stories, will increase Aboriginal involvement in Manitoba boreal wilderness protection efforts.

Latest Stories:

Anne Marie Sam


The Canadian Boreal – a home endangered

photo credit Tim Swanky, UNBC “The land makes us who we are. What identity will my daughters have when our keyoh (traditional land holding) is a tailings pond? If the land is covered with a mine, then who are we going to be in the future? It's a scary thought, we can't just move to another place. It's our livelihood, our way of life, we still rely on the land for our food; it is a big part of who we are. Our territory is our responsibility; we can't just move around. The land is so sacred we are not supposed to talk about it. We are being forced to talk about it now because we have to defend it. We didn't talk about it before because it is just so sacred. It ...

Trina Flett – Ochiwasahow- Our Responsibility

Trina Flett You have a choice. And a responsibility. Trina Flett would like you to think about that. Her home community sits on the shores of Lake Winnipeg surrounded by one of the largest tracts of boreal forest in Canada. The Ochiwasahow, Cree for Fisher Bay, Park Reserve provides interim protection from industrial developments, protecting the area's thriving biological diversity, long sandy beaches, old growth forests and the waters of the lake. As the planet's biggest land-based storehouse of carbon, the boreal forest provides a "filter" for clean air and fresh water. It also plays an important role in regulating global climate. The boreal forest is an essential part of the earth's life support system. It is also home to the Fisher River Cree Nation. The community depends on the boreal forest and the lake for traditional activities and ...

Peigi Wilson

Peigi Wilson, a Métis from Ontario, has worked for the United Nations Environment Program, the Assembly of First Nations, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and Environment Canada.  In her 18-year career as a lawyer and advocate, Peigi has promoted respect for the environment and Indigenous rights as a necessary joint objective.  In a recent discussion with Peigi about her Master of Laws thesis completed in 2009, Peigi discussed the importance of Indigenous participation in environmental governance. Environmental issues are a collective threat as all populations are affected. The loss of biological diversity threatens our resiliency; the loss of different ways of looking at the world or addressing a problem threatens our intellectual capacity to respond to threats.  Therefore, to ensure environmental protection, it is advised that different schools of thought be explored when creating environmental policy. “As our societies are interconnected, we need to come together to develop environmental legislation that ...

Lessons from the Land of the Sleeping Giant: An Interview with Liz Esquega

Liz Esquega Even though Liz Esquega has learned much from Elders she works with in Winnipeg as the Coordinator for SEED Winnipeg's Aboriginal Community Collaborations, the lessons she received from her grandmother as a child were what originally informed her outlook on life – and her outlook on some pressing environmental issues facing Manitobans today. Liz  grew up in Fort William First Nation near Thunder Bay, Ontario, nestled against the shores and heaving surf of Lake Superior where one can stand and look upon the famous Sleeping Giant rock formation; a near perfect relief of some fantastic and colossal man slumbering atop the cold, black water.  From Thunder Bay, you can travel a little south into Fort William and eventually into a blanket of boreal forest and stand at the foot of Mount McKay.  This is where the community holds their annual ...

Latest News:

Elders right all along: scientists find huge caribou herd thought lost

Elders right all along: scientists find huge caribou herd thought lost A vast herd of northern caribou that scientists feared had vanished from the face of the Earth has been found, safe and sound — pretty much where aboriginal elders said it would be all along. "The Beverly herd has not disappeared," said John Nagy, lead author of a recently published study that has biologists across the North relieved. Those scientists were shaken by a 2009 survey on the traditional calving grounds of the Beverly herd, which ranges over a huge swath of tundra from northern Saskatchewan to the Arctic coast. A herd that once numbered 276,000 animals seemed to have completely disappeared, the most dramatic and chilling example of a general decline in barren-ground caribou. But Nagy's research — and consultation with the communities that live with the animals — concludes differently. [caption id="attachment_749" align="alignnone" width="582" caption="Wild caribou roam the tundra near the Meadowbank Gold Mine located in Nunavut on March 25, 2009. A ...

How Grassy Narrows’ lawsuit could change aboriginal-government relations across Canada

grassy narrows clearcut On a cold December day nine years ago, a group of young people from the Grassy Narrows First Nation lay down in front of a line of logging trucks on a snow-covered road. Chrissy Swain, now 32, recalls that day at Slant Lake, about an hour north of Kenora, Ontario, which set off what has become Canada's longest-standing logging blockade. “Back then youth didn't have a voice,” Swain says. “But people started taking us more seriously when we started the blockade.” For a long time, Grassy Narrows was accustomed to not being heard. In the 1950s, new hydro dams flooded the low-lying river valleys the First Nation had lived in, driving away the fur-bearing animals and submerging wild rice beds and sacred spiritual sites. In the early 1960s, the Canadian federal government moved the small Grassy Narrows community away from the river to a new location on a small stagnant lake off ...

Tour Canada’s Boreal Forest

Spanning 1.2 billion acres, Canada's boreal forest is the largest intact forest ecosystem on the planet. This unique environment is home to hundreds of species of migratory fish and birds, and contains carbon-rich soil and permafrost critical to the fight against global warming. See more at the Pew Environment Group

Protecting the Bloodvein River

 Protecting the Bloodvein River

The Pimachiowin Aki project aims to designate Manitoba's Bloodvein River and surrounding forests a UNESCO World Heritage Site

[caption id="attachment_1648" align="aligncenter" width="486" caption="These men, who were born and raised near the Bloodvein River, point to ancient pictographs that are part of their heritage. (Photo: Hidehiro Otake)"][/caption] Bald eagles soar over Manitoba's Bloodvein River and a forest of lichen-draped Jack pines and mattress-thick moss. Piloted by grinning guides who shout at one another in Ojibwa, our boats splash through a series of churning rapids en route to an ancient rock painting on a granite cliff. This river and the forest surrounding it are at the core of a campaign to create a UNESCO World Heritage Site on approximately 4.3 million hectares of boreal forest straddling the Manitoba-Ontario border, about one-third of the way up the eastern side of Lake Winnipeg. The goals of the ...