NGO Campaigns to Increase Funding for Indigenous-Led Nature Conservation Programs – RCI

The Pimachiowin Aki Boreal Forest, which means “the land that gives life” in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), includes the traditional lands of four Anishinaabe communities – Poplar River, Bloodvein River, Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations. (Pimachiowin Aki Corporation)

A Canadian Indigenous organization is launching a new awareness and fundraising campaign to expand programs designed to expand and deepen Indigenous-led nature conservation and stewardship initiatives across the country.

The Lands Needs Guardians campaign launched on Wednesday aims to attract long-term investment in Indigenous Guardians and other Indigenous environmental stewardship programs, said Valerie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative which spearheaded the campaign.

“A lot more is happening on the ground, Indigenous Guardians programs have doubled in the last few years and there are more and more communities asking for it, planning it and creating various programs,” Courtois told Radio Canada. International in a telephone interview.

“Eyes to the Ground”

About 60 Indigenous guardian programs look after traditional territories across the country, Courtois said.

Guardians are employed as the “eyes on the ground” in Indigenous territories monitoring ecological health, maintaining cultural sites and protecting sensitive areas and species, Courtois said.

Indigenous guardian programs also help manage and manage Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), Courtois said.

These programs, which include the Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area/National Wildlife Area and Thaidene Nëné, contain vast intact landscapes of boreal forest and contribute significantly to meeting Canada’s international biodiversity commitments, she said. .

Expanding and supporting these stewardship programs will make Canada a world leader in conservation, Courtois said.

“If Canada is to achieve its goals and commitments, it must recognize that the real leadership in this country over the past 20 years has come from Indigenous peoples,” Courtois said. “And if you look at the protected areas that were created during that time, the vast majority of them were led or co-led by indigenous peoples.”

Big investment needed

But expanding the network of Indigenous protected areas to meet the Liberal government’s goal of protecting a quarter of Canada’s lands and oceans by 2025 would require a “significant” investment from the federal government, he said. she declared.

The movement to create a National Indigenous Guardians Network has gained momentum following an initial investment of $25 million over five years in the 2017-18 federal budget.

But the Australian government, for example, spends about $90 million a year on its Working on Country Indigenous rangers initiative that inspired the Canadian program, Courtois said.

“We are talking at least, if not more, on this scale,” Courtois said.

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