Indigenous communities around the world have been caring for the environment much longer than we have. We admire how Indigenous peoples globally, and within Canada use their wisdom of the earth to protect the natural world and advocate for human flourishing. Get to know some incredible Canadian Indigenous environmental initiatives that combine environmental stewardship and social justice.
Edéhzhíe Protected Area
Edéhzhíe Protected Area is the first (formal) Indigenous protected area in Canada. This beautiful region is 14 218 km2 — twice the size of Banff National Park. Edéhzhíe is home to unique watersheds, boreal forests and many at-risk and keystone species.
It’s also the largest protected Woodland caribou and bison range in Canada.
Edéhzhíe is completing its initiatives using land stewardship activities like research projects, environmental monitoring, resource management and youth mentoring. The project is a result of collaborative management between the Canadian government and Indigenous people and focuses on prioritizing Indigenous knowledge and values.
Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources
The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources is a natural resource management program organized by the Mi’kmaq nation. They undertake a ton of unique management projects including commercial fisheries, a moose management plan, community outreach and community employment.
The initiative also performs ocean research on oyster, lobster, eel and gaspereau (small silvery fish) and looks at marine water quality. The Unama’ki Institute provides a unique combination of environmentally stewarding different ecosystems and giving Indigenous communities the chance to strengthen their resource management skills and share their traditional knowledge.
Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardians
The tribal parks guardians in Tla-o-qui-aht sound, Tofino British Columbia are stewarding four different Tribal Parks within the area. This group is focusing on many different types of environmental stewardship with this land, including invasive species control, environmental monitoring, and marine debris removal and recycling.
The project is also working on revitalizing salmon populations and restoring rivers degraded by unsustainable logging practices. To connect to the community, the initiative certifies local businesses that support and share information about the Tribal Parks. This group is doing inspiring environmental work, while also focusing on bringing the local community together.
Indigenous Climate Action
The Indigenous Climate Action group was founded by Indigenous women in Alberta in 2015 to start conversations about climate change and Indigenous rights. The initiative has a variety of incredible tools and projects, including webinars, granting awards to small Indigenous projects and connecting Indigenous communities.
One highlight of the project is the Climate Action Toolkit, which helps Indigenous communities relate to climate change information. This kit is supporting Indigenous people to be climate change experts, develop climate strategies and has built a network to connect these climate experts. The Indigenous Climate Action project focuses on the intersection between Indigenous rights and climate justice, especially by uplifting Indigenous voices and focusing on sovereignty goals.