Indigenous Peoples are honouring the responsibility to the land in ways that are informed by the traditions of our ancestors and draw on the tools of the modern world. We do it by conserving and watching over our territories. For some nations, that includes creating Indigenous Protected Areas.
Indigenous Protected Areas are places identified by Indigenous communities for conservation. They reflect Indigenous law and culture and ensure Indigenous Peoples can sustain our relationship with the lands. Many are created in partnership with Crown governments, and most are managed by Indigenous Guardians who care for the land on behalf of their communities.
Filmmaker Amos Scott worked with several communities to tell the story of their proposed Indigenous Protected Areas. “I’m grateful for the knowledge communities shared with me,” Scott said. “People are always so happy when they’re in their traditional areas. It’s great to be around that feeling and share it with others.” The Indigenous Leadership Initiative will post each new video as Scott continues with the series.
Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area & National Wildlife Area
Edéhzhíe stretches across over 14,240 square kilometres of boreal forest, headwater lakes and wetlands west of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Elders call it the breadbasket of the Dehcho First Nations, because the caribou, moose, fish and waterfowl have sustained people for millennia.
The Dehcho worked for many years to conserve Edéhzhíe and the community’s way of life on the land. In 2018, they led the creation of the joint Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area and National Wildlife Area.
“It’s an empowering story, and it’s not just empowering for First Nations Peoples. It’s empowering for everyone,” said Dahti Tsetso who directs the Dehcho K’éhodi Indigenous Guardians program.
Ross River Indigenous Protected Area
“Take care of the land. Take care of the animals. Take care of the people.” That’s the aim of the Ross River Dena Council. They are working to create an Indigenous protected area spanning 25,000 sq kilometres in the eastern Yukon.
Three rivers wind through the area. Two mountain ranges form a pathway for tens of thousands of migratory boreal birds. And vibrant lowlands provide winter range for caribou herds.
These lands have sustained the Ross River Dena for millennia. Today they are honouring their ancestors’ teachings by designing the protected area. “It’s our inherent duty. It’s a responsibility we have to protect our land,” says Former Council Member Derrick Redies.