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  • » Peigi Wilson | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    the environment has an impact not only on the environment but on us The notion of interconnectedness is embraced in numerous Indigenous traditional laws such as respect for the boreal forest or respect for future generations Although this idea is captured in Indigenous laws it is not yet recognized in current Canadian legislation Canadian laws do not reflect the traditional philosophies of Indigenous Peoples and their legal systems As Peigi confirms There are very few opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to participate in environmental regulation In her thesis Peigi cites numerous examples of disrespect for Indigenous Peoples in Canadian environmental laws and policy She believes that the fundamental cause for neglecting Indigenous worldviews is a clash of cultures as well as a general lack of awareness by non Indigenous Canadians Indigenous Peoples generally share a worldview in that everything is connected the majority of Canadians view things as disconnected and presume that humanity is superior to the environment explains Peigi It is these two fundamentally different ideas that I see as the underlying difference between environmental laws of Indigenous Peoples and those of Canada As a result Canadian Laws do not reflect the philosophies of Indigenous peoples and their legal systems However an approach to environmental governance which seeks to include the notion of interconnectedness can bring numerous benefits to natural landscapes in peril such as the boreal forest As our societies are interconnected we need to come together to develop environmental legislation that is respectful of both Indigenous and non Indigenous worldviews There are very few opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to participate in environmental regulation Incorporating Indigenous concepts of interconnectedness within the Canadian legal paradigm would promote greater pride by Indigenous Peoples in their own values a greater awareness by other Canadians and ideally greater respect for the natural world as a whole As Peigi explains one of the greatest simultaneous threats to Indigenous cultures and biological diversity is the extinction of experience Gary Naban and Sara St Antoine Essentially extinction of experience is the extinction of a cultural relationship to the natural world The four sacred medicines cedar sage tobacco and sweet grass are fundamental elements of some Indigenous Peoples spirituality as well as practical tangible elements of many Indigenous cultures in Canada says Peigi citing the example of the four sacred medicines to explain the concept of extinction of experience Imagine if there was a blight that wiped out all of the eastern white cedar This would make it virtually impossible for Indigenous People to use cedar as a traditional medicine and to practice their traditional religions Without the opportunity to experience the healing power of cedar the notion of cedar as a sacred medicine would become empty words for future generations The loss of the boreal forest s cedar for example would create a disconnection to the natural land and as a result would greatly impact the way Indigenous peoples express their traditional culture As the relationship with the natural world is weakened the value of respect

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/stories/675/peigi-wilson (2016-02-09)
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  • » Lessons from the Land of the Sleeping Giant: An Interview with Liz Esquega | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    Esquega recounts enigmatic and self sufficient old women who used to meticulously document weather patterns and live by the rhythm of the land She would spend her time sitting on the bed looking distantly out the window observing and meditating On occasion she would pat the bed and ask Liz to sit with her When she did she would never look at her granddaughter but instead would remain transfixed at the scene outside Her words were often subtle and understated yet consistently full of insight I can tell by way Liz speaks about them that she has enjoyed a lifetime of decoding their finer mysteries Shhhh Did you hear that her grandmother once asked The young and mystified Liz looked on Didn t you hear what that little bird said She said it s going to rain today And rain it did Liz tells me that this kind of knowledge is invaluable It s beyond science almost being in tune with Mother Earth and what surrounds you says Esquega The value of that is being in touch with the Creator and reminding you of the beauty that life has to offer and it s all for free it doesn t cost anything And what do we do Destroy it When we destroy it we destroy ourselves This is the ancient knowledge As one of the many things Liz Equega does to combat poverty in her capacity as the Coordinator for SEED Winnipeg s Aboriginal Community Collaborations she also has taught money management workshops to Aboriginal Seniors that live in Winnipeg The strain of financial poverty is significant on the Elders living in Winnipeg but so is the strain of environmental poverty It came up at the Aboriginal Senior Resource Centre because this is how they see poverty Just think about how many of them grew up Grandma didn t even have running water but she had the land and knew how to live on it Now the elders are living poor in the city and saving up their pennies says Liz The issue of environmental poverty eventually came up with Liz s grandmother too It s beyond science almost being in tune with Mother Earth and what surrounds you says Esquega The value of that is being in touch with the Creator and reminding you of the beauty that life has to offer and it s all for free it doesn t cost anything And what do we do Destroy it When we destroy it we destroy ourselves This is the ancient knowledge Grandma didn t see herself as poor She found her wealth in the waters of Lake Superior in the mountains and the beauty of the natural world says Liz But over time the ever observant grandmother who could tell how cold the coming winter was going to be by the rhythm of the tides and how great the harvest of berries was going to be in spring time eventually remarked to Liz that the water of Lake

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/stories/650/lessons-from-the-land-of-the-sleeping-giant-an-interview-with-liz-esquega (2016-02-09)
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  • » Thomas Beaudry | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    way about how the appreciation of land was taken away to make room for people during the time of colonization Many of his plays focused on these issues Thomas was influenced by the land ethic that was instilled and passed down to him by his family His exploration and challenge of traditional and western land use practices over the years has provided him with a more holistic understanding of the issues currently facing our nation Today Thomas is the Community Liaison Heritage Resource Extension Officer with Manitoba Conservation He assists communities in reviewing the legislation that may affect aboriginal rights and attempts to combine traditional and western knowledge in order to facilitate a better understanding of the impact that land use planning will have on our environment Thomas cited that western science would benefit from consulting with Elders in the community regarding migration patterns of animals and the changes in the animal population He indicated that at times Scientists do not take the time to consult with the communities that are in close contact with the animals being studied and instead adhere to more intrusive tactics of tagging animals which can cause physical stress on them Thomas cited that animal populations ebb and flow due to a number of reasons such as climate change and the encroachment of people on their habitats He suggests that less intrusive methods that place value on traditional knowledge may lead to better research When asked to explain why the Boreal Forest is important to him Thomas indicated that it provides a livelihood for the people Thomas believes in the importance of sustainable development He does not believe that all development should be stopped but indicated that current practices could be improved Thomas has been a part of the Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin project which is

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/stories/649/thomas-beaudry (2016-02-09)
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  • » Stories | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    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 Read the rest of this story Posted in Stories 1 Comment Thomas Beaudry Thomas Beaudry grew up in the small Métis farming community of St Claude Manitoba He cited that although he always had an inherent respect for the land and the sustenance that it provided he developed an appreciation for the land based on the teachings of his Father and Grandfather Thomas explained that as a child he would take food from the garden if he was hungry but that his father had taught him to always give something back Thomas indicated that it could be something as simple as an offering of Tobacco that this very act brings about a sense of appreciation for the land This very simple teaching has followed Thomas throughout his life and reminds us to honor the sacred balance between man and nature As a youth Thomas moved to the city of Winnipeg He fell away from the environmental movement at that time and it was not Read the rest of this story Posted in Stories No Comments Dr Peggy Wilson and Dr Stan Wilson Land based Education With their entire professional lives in the field of education Drs Stan Wilson and Dr Peggy Wilson recognizing the need for the participation of more Aboriginal people in postgraduate education sought to introduce a Graduate Program in First Nations Education at the University of Alberta Ten Aboriginal PhD students and 22 Aboriginal Masters students graduated in the ten years the Wilsons taught the program all of their work stemming from an Indigenist Paradigm Despite mandatory retirement the two continued to work to deliver a unique Land Based Education program which would offer Aboriginal educators the chance to acquire a Master s degree without giving up their teaching positions The program effectively seeks to teach an alternate way of learning one that places a high value on Indigenous knowledge Not only is its relevancy as an educational Read the rest of this story Posted in Stories 6 Comments Chief Derek Nepinak Chief Derek Nepinak may be one of the youngest people to ever be elected as chief but at just 36 years old his anecdotal musings are wonderfully apt at forwarding complex cultural perspectives with a well seasoned ease Chief Nepinak took office as Chief of

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/stories (2016-02-09)
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  • » Elders right all along: scientists find huge caribou herd thought lost | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    His work springs from recent studies that question the long held theory that caribou always return to the same calving ground It holds that different herds use different grounds and that s what sets them apart In the past herds have been defined based on their calving grounds said Nagy However it s been shown that not all herds maintain fidelity to their calving grounds Herds are now defined by which animals hang out together not by where they give birth It s actually behaviour that structures these herds not calving grounds It turns out that the Beverly herd has simply shifted its calving grounds north from the central barrens near Baker Lake Nunavut to the coastal regions around Queen Maud Gulf Nagy s analysis of radio tracking data showed caribou in the region once thought to belong to the Ahiak herd are in fact Beverly animals It showed that there were two different subpopulations of caribou within that area that calved along the Queen Maud Gulf he said One is migratory which I believe is the Beverly herd The new theory hasn t been entirely accepted but it s starting to convince wildlife regulators We re leaning that way said Ross Thompson of the Beverly Qamanirjuaq Management Board Nunavut government biologist Mitch Campbell one of Nagy s co authors said early results from a survey of the rediscovered herd suggest Beverly numbers are lower than their peak but remain healthy There s no indication that the herd is as large as it used to be he said We did find a healthy size caribou population there We saw lots of calves The animals seem to be in good condition While scientists are excited aboriginal elders are more likely to shrug Said Campbell When the initial alarm bells were ringing

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/news/748/elders-right-all-along-scientists-find-huge-caribou-herd-thought-lost (2016-02-09)
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  • » How Grassy Narrows’ lawsuit could change aboriginal-government relations across Canada | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    interest and hadn t been considered in any previous case We re not against logging We re just against bad logging says trapper Fobister In the 60s he says he had good rapport with loggers often catching rides to his family trap line with them Now there s nothing for me to trap When he was young unmarketable trees and debris were left Today it s a different story Everything is gone when you go there now After years of waiting the reserve finally got the chance to present its evidence in nearly eight months of hearings On August 16 2011 Justice Mary Anne Sanderson ruled in favour of Grassy Narrows in a lengthy 300 page judgment Ontario cannot infringe on aboriginal rights to hunt and trap enshrined in the Treaty 3 agreement signed in 1873 with the federal government the judge said Joseph Fobister was choking back tears when he heard the news My first thought was justice at last It s been a long 10 years waiting for something to happen he tells me following a press conference at Queen s Park Grassy Narrows Band Council Chief Simon Fobister is also elated This time the Indians won Trapping isn t the only concern over clear cut logging Research suggests clear cut logging practices can increase mercury levels in the soil This past September Chief Fobister led a Grassy Narrows delegation to Japan to raise awareness about the health effects of mercury Mercury poisoning called Minamata disease was named after the Japanese city where the first case was observed after chemical company Chisso dumped waste water into the local bay While on a trip to Japan Chief Fobister screened the film The Scars of Mercury a documentary about the findings of Japanese doctor Masazumi Harada a leading specialist in mercury poisoning Harada has been closely studying the situation in Grassy Narrows since the 70s In 2010 following his fifth visit to the reserve Dr Harada reported the impacts of mercury poisoning are worse now despite mercury levels having decreased Today pregnant women are still passing this mercury to to their fetuses and babies are being born already suffering Minamata disease When I visited Grassy Narrows in 2006 clan mother Judy Da Silva drove me in the back of her pickup truck out to a clear cut where she picked wild herbs and berries and hunted and trapped as a kid A large expanse of dust and baby evergreen saplings now stands where the old mixed forest used to Da Silva a tireless activist could often be found sitting near the fire at the Slant Lake blockade while her children skipped rocks on the lake or explored the bush behind the log cabins Now her daughter Taina 17 is taking up the cause giving a public talk for the first time at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education while visiting Toronto this past summer It s the steadfast commitment of clan mothers like Judy Da Silva that continues to

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/news/743/how-grassy-narrows%e2%80%99-lawsuit-could-change-aboriginal-government-relations-across-canada (2016-02-09)
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  • » Tour Canada’s Boreal Forest | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    Foundation Home Tour Canada s Boreal Forest Comment on this Story Email This Story Tour Canada s Boreal Forest October 6th 2011 Source Pew Environment Group 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

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/news/738/tour-canadas-boreal-forest (2016-02-09)
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  • » Protecting the Bloodvein River | Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders
    local First Nations began developing a plan to apply to UNESCO for World Heritage Site status a fifth First Nation joined the group later The land in question is home to about 7 200 members of the Bloodvein Little Grand Rapids Pauingassi Pikangikum and Poplar River first nations as well as a pair of provincial parks Atikaki and Woodland Caribou in Manitoba and Ontario whose governments have been part of the pitch from the start Pimachiowin Aki pim MATCH chowin ahh KEY means the land that gives life in Ojibwa and the UNESCO application is rooted in both the natural and the cultural value of the region Becoming a World Heritage Site would not only preserve habitat for threatened species including woodland caribou and lake sturgeon but also showcase traditional ways of relating to the land such as harvesting wild rice and hunting moose The original idea was just protection of traditional territory says William Young owner of the Bloodvein River Lodge the base for our river excursion Now we want to manage the area within our traditional territory I think becoming a UNESCO site would give it more exposure both internationally and in urban Canada especially Winnipeg A UNESCO designation as a world class landscape tends to draw tourists which could be a boon to a place already popular with Americans and Europeans who come to fish for pickerel and pike and to experience First Nations culture Until now the culture of these communities has been protected by their isolation To travel south residents usually cross Lake Winnipeg to reach Highway 8 a two hour trip by boat or in winter by truck when the ice is solid There s also an old winter logging road east of the lake that heads south To fly it costs 250 for a one way ticket out of Bloodvein That will change however with the construction of a four season highway along the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg that will extend about 150 kilometres north of Bloodvein to Berens River The new road is scheduled for completion in 2014 or 2015 and would connect to southern highways and provide easier access to health care and fresh food for residents of remote communities But there are fears it could also bring alcohol drugs and gangs to northern reserves Moreover the road could potentially open up the area to mining and forestry companies although getting a UNESCO designation would significantly limit the extent of industrial development The most pressing industrial issue is the new hydroelectric transmission line Bipole III that Manitoba Hydro plans to build from the north of the province to Winnipeg Politicians are arguing over the location of the line indeed it has become one of the main issues in early October s provincial election and over whether its route will affect the proposed UNESCO site Manitoba s current NDP government wants the power line to be built west of Lake Winnipeg claiming that selling electricity to the United States hinges on

    Original URL path: http://www.abcleaders.org/news/736/protecting-the-bloodvein-river (2016-02-09)
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