The Future of the Land
The Indigenous Leadership Initiative works with communities across Canada to support Indigenous-led land use planning. These communities recognize that making decisions about the future of ancestral land and holding the pen when lines are drawn on the map are both powerful elements of nationhood.
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation
The Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) of northwestern Manitoba is home to crystal clear lakes, boreal forest, culturally important lands, and is also a place of mining activities, forestry, and hydro-electric development. Four years ago, the community embarked on a planning process to determine how to manage its 2.3-million-hectare territory, conducting scores of interviews to identify culturally important areas and mapping out these and other important features of the landscape to determine which areas to protect and which areas to allow for development. NCN expects to finalize this plan by the end of 2018.
Several First Nations along the border of Manitoba and Ontario have been working together with the Governments of Manitoba and Ontario to conserve Pimachiowin Aki, traditional territory stretching over vast expanses of boreal forest. ILI has supported the First Nations’ effort to designate Pimachiowin Aki as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was formally inscribed in July of 2018, and by supporting member-communities in the creation of their land use plans, including Poplar River, Paungaussi and Little Grand Rapids.
Many Indigenous communities have already created their own plans for managing traditional lands. The Dehcho First Nations in the southern Mackenzie Valley, for instance, designed a plan that honours cultural traditions and elders’ knowledge. The community collected over 40,000 pieces of data in order to identify protected areas, conservation zones, general use areas for development and other categories. It also worked with the Northwest Territories government to expand the Nahanni National Park Reserve fourfold to include the entire 3.2 million-hectare watershed.