Indigenous-led conservation efforts can help foster
reconciliation between humans and the land
There is a changing conservation
dynamic in Canada, one in which
Indigenous Peoples are regaining
their voices. It is a time of shifting paradigms,
“where Indigenous Peoples decide what
conservation and protection means to them
and to the lands and waters and are given
the space to lead its implementation
in their territories.” 1
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)
recognizes the deeply spiritual connections
between Indigenous People and the land
on which they have lived for millennia.
Today, as a leading conservation organization,
NCC also recognizes we have much to learn
from Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, which
in turn will help us to become even better
land managers and conservationists.
NCC is already working with Indigenous communities
on many productive collaborations
coast to coast to coast. In this issue of the NCC
Magazine you will learn about some of these
innovative approaches to conservation. But
we can do more. NCC has a unique opportunity
to contribute the skills we have acquired
to assist Indigenous communities and nations
to achieve their conservation goals
We believe that by working together, in the
spirit of reconciliation, we can help to heal
broken connections between Indigenous
people and the land. We envision a future in
which our relationships with Indigenous communities
grow and are grounded in mutual
respect and the common desire to achieve
significant and durable conservation outcomes
for the sake of the Earth we all share.
John Lounds, President and CEO
We Rise Together, 2018. Indigenous Circle of Experts.
Nature Conservancy of Canada | 245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410 | Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 3J1
email@example.com | Phone: 416.932.3202 | Toll-free: 800.465.0029
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most
important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 2.8 million
acres (more than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast.
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2 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
Nature Conservancy of Canada
TJ WATT. COURTESY RAECHEL BONOMO.
14 Fighting climate change
Nature conservation will help store carbon
and allow people and wildlife to adapt to
the changes brought on by climate change
16 Pointe Saint-Pierre
This gem on the Gaspé Peninsula offers
natural and historic treasures
17 Water smart
Anishinaabe artist and curator Jaimie Isaac
respects her connection to nature by always
using a reusable water canteen
18 A kinship with the land
Indigenous Peoples and the Nature Conservancy
of Canada are partnering to conserve
lands that thread together Indigenous
values, language and culture
12 Swift fox
Travelling at up to 60 kilometres per hour,
the swift fox is aptly named
14 Project updates
Expanding our efforts in Darkwoods, big news
about the little brown bat and cross-country
skiing for conservation in Quebec
16 Reciprocity with the land
Nuu-chah-nulth Canadian political scientist
Eli Enns shares how Indigenous-led
conservation efforts can foster reconciliation
between people and nature
18 There’s nothing like it
Reflecting on a blessedly long season on the
Big Lake (Lake Superior) in Ontario
identity in nature
By Raechel Bonomo, NCC content creator & staff writer
For a long time, I struggled with what being Indigenous meant. I knew
that my grandfather was Kanien’keha’:ka (Mohawk), but there had always
been a spiritual disconnection between my culture and my identity. What
did it mean to be native, and what responsibility did I have to my community and
to Mother Earth?
It wasn’t until I stepped outside and into nature that I began to answer these
questions. I found my identity on the land. In the words of Darryl Chamakese,
featured in Saulteaux writer Michelle’s Brass’ story “A kinship with the land,”
“There’s no way to separate the values, the language, the culture from the land.”
Indigenous culture lives and breathes within the waters that flow in rivers and
streams and the trees that grow tall and shade the plants below.
The resiliency of Indigenous Peoples and our culture is evident where landscapes
thrive. This strength is echoed in the places the Nature Conservancy of Canada
(NCC) cares for across Canada.
I see myself and my culture in the work we do at NCC, and I relate so much
to my brothers and sisters in the way they too find themselves in the land.
In speaking with Eli Enns, Nuu-chah-nulth Canadian political scientist, he
taught me about reciprocity and how Indigenous communities have lived since
the start of Creation. Traditional Nuu-chah-nulth laws help guide Enns in his
work and in his relationship with the land. The energy we exchange with the
land through reciprocity is how we can protect landscapes, enjoy nature and
move toward reconciliation.
Whether it’s on the rolling hills of the Qu’Appelle Valley in southeast Saskatchewan,
a traditional gathering place in the heart of Treaty 4 territory, or in the
mountainous Darkwoods in British Columbia, we can all find a bit of ourselves in
nature. You just have to go out and look for it.1
WINTER 2019 3
Nature conservation will play a crucial role in our efforts to
mitigate climate change by helping store carbon and allowing
people and wildlife to adapt to changing conditions
With the recent warning from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change that we have just over a decade to limit global warming
comes our window of opportunity to act now.
Nature will play a critical role in our actions by providing a two-for-one solution to
reduce the impacts of rapid climate change. The places we protect and restore both
store carbon and help people and nature adapt to our changing climate.
Nature has been storing carbon for a very long time. The fossil fuels that we burn
today are examples of carbon that was stored by ancient forests, wetlands and oceans.
Protecting and restoring these habitats ensures that nature continues to absorb excess
carbon from the atmosphere. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Science found that nature conservation could provide over
one-third of the emission reductions needed to help keep the average global temperature
from increasing by two degrees.
Nature conservation is important in helping wildlife and people adapt to some of
the changes that we are already experiencing as a result of climate change. Wetlands,
forests and grasslands provide a buffer from extreme weather events, such as floods,
droughts and rising sea levels. Intact, connected natural habitats will also help some
species shift their ranges in response to climate change.
Across Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is protecting and
restoring some of Canada’s most important natural places. These projects are critical
to protecting our wild spaces and wildlife. They are also instrumental in reducing the
amount of carbon in the atmosphere and helping communities better cope with the
impacts of climate change.
PHOTO: MIKE FORD. ILLUSTRATION: CHELSEA PETERS.
4 WINTER 2019
Here are five examples from across
Canada where NCC is helping to reduce
the impacts of climate change
NCC’s Darkwoods project is not just Canada’s largest
private conservation project and a key link in North
America’s Rocky Mountain wildlife corridor. It also
stores a vast amount of carbon. NCC has been raising
funds for conservation by registering and selling
certified carbon credits from this property to help
organizations offset their greenhouse gas emissions.
Wildlife corridors help species
and habitats shift in response
to our changing climate. With
funds from the Province of
Quebec’s Fonds vert, NCC and
partners are working to provide
information to local residents
and safeguard these corridors.
ILLUSTRATIONS: CHELSEA PETERS. PHOTOS: BC: GORDON MACPHERSON; QC: ISTOCK; MB: JASON BANTLE; ON: NCC; NB: MIKE DEMBECK.
Wetlands are a key habitat for many species of wildlife. They also
play an important role in filtering water, absorbing floodwaters
and storing carbon. NCC and our partners have protected over
13,500 acres (5,500 hectares) in the Minesing Wetlands. These
natural lands are helping to protect nature and buffer downstream
communities from the increasing frequency of severe weather
events resulting from climate change.
Nature conservation planning needs to incorporate the impacts of climate change,
such as extreme weather events, flooding and changing temperatures. In Manitoba,
NCC is updating several Natural Area Conservation Plans to ensure that climate
change is incorporated in our conservation plans and actions.
Protecting and restoring coastal habitats
are a key strategy to help buffer communities
from rising sea levels and storm
surges as a result of climate change. NCC
has conserved coastal habitats in all four
Atlantic provinces. These not only protect
important habitats for migratory birds
and other species, they also provide
valuable coastal protection.1
WINTER 2019 5
Not only does the area boast beautiful views and
an abundance of wildlife, pointe Saint-Pierre also
has a rich historical importance.
This gem on the Gaspé peninsula offers natural
and historic treasures worthy of discovery
Located between the towns of Gaspé and
Percé, pointe Saint-Pierre provides
habitat for thousands of seabirds, including
harlequin duck and Barrow’s goldeneye.
Grey seals and several species of whales
can also be seen along its coasts.
Pointe Saint-Pierre boasts meadows,
forests and 10-metre-high cliffs along the
shores of the Gaspé coast. A continuation of
the Appalachian Mountain range, the area
features a harsh landscape of exceptional
natural diversity and dense stands of Maritime
mixed forest. Since 2008, NCC has
secured more than 130 acres (53 hectares)
in the pointe Saint-Pierre area.
A LEGACY TO CONSERVE
Not only does the area boast beautiful views
and an abundance of wildlife, pointe Saint-
Pierre also has a rich historical importance.
With its traditional Loyalist architecture
and Victorian touches, the LeGros House
is a testimony to the Jerseyan merchants
who once lived here.
Jerseyans, inhabitants of the Anglo-
Norman island of Jersey, once played an
important role in commerce and trade
in Gaspésie, and can be traced back to
a number of families in the area. Families
such as Alexandre, LeMaîstre, Mouilpied,
LeMarquand, LeGresley and LeHuguet often
travelled to LeGros House between 1880
and 1957. Here they celebrated weddings,
MIKE DEMBECK. INSET: MARIUS JOMPHE.
6 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
Anishinaabe artist and curator Jaimie Isaac respects her
connection to the natural world and the privilege of access
to clean water by always carrying a re-usable water canteen
LeGros House offers many opportunities to learn
about the daily realities of winter in the area.
births and anniversaries, and also mourned
the loss of family members.
Donated to NCC in 2007, this house,
with the exceptional condition of its content
(including furniture, photos, accessories
and attic) seems frozen in time. Visitors can
immerse themselves in the everyday life of
a Jerseyan family in this era.
EXPLORE A SPECTACULAR AREA
There is no shortage of natural wonders to
see and explore in the Gaspé. In fact, in 2011
National Geographic magazine named the
region one of the top tourism destinations
in the world. Pointe Saint-Pierre forms the
easternmost point of the Gaspé Peninsula. Immerse
yourself in pointe Sainte-Pierre’s beauty
as you wander the hiking trail. Interpretive
panels provide information on the area.
Pointe Saint-Pierre (between Percé and
Gaspé, 975 kilometres northeast of Montreal)
• Built between 1880-1885;
• A vestige of Jerseyan heritage;
• Incomparable historic relics;
• Largest house on pointe Saint-Pierre.
Icurated an exhibition called
Boarder X, which explored
Indigenous artists who are
practitioners of skateboarding,
surfing and snowboarding, as
a way to respond to the lands
they occupy. Being a lover of
these ways of life myself but a
“flatlander” living in the prairies,
boarding really designs when
and where I travel to connect
with the natural world, especially
near the ocean and the mountains.
I almost always bring some
form of canteen, stainless steel
or copper preferably, in which to
carry water. I am very aware of
the plastic water bottle pollution
in the landfills and oceans, and
acutely conscious of clean water
privilege, as millions of people
around the world don’t have access
to clean drinking water. With
this knowledge, using a re-usable
canteen is one way to contribute
to a cultural shift of responsibility
that considers future generations.
As a good reminder, I think of
an Indigenous concept: “We do
not inherit the land from our
ancestors, we borrow it from
SPECIES TO SPOT
• Barrow’s goldeneye
• common eider
• grey seal
NCC. JUAN LUNA. COURTESY JAIMIE ISAAC.
Offers three trails totalling 10 kilometres.
Bring your snowshoes and your binoculars.1
Learn more at naturedestinations.ca
WINTER 2019 7
Indigenous Peoples and the Nature Conservancy of Canada are collaborating to
conserve lands that weave together Indigenous values, language and culture
BY Michelle Brass
8 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
It’s a crisp fall day and the view of the Qu’Appelle
Valley in southeast Saskatchewan is stunning and serene.
This traditional gathering place is the heart of Treaty 4
territory. Treaty 4, signed in 1874 between the Crown and
Indigenous Nations, is one of 11 Numbered Treaties that
outline the agreement to share the land and live in partnership for “as
long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow.”
This reference to the land is no accident. For Indigenous Peoples,
the land truly is everything. “There’s no way to separate the values,
the language, the culture from the land,” says Darryl Chamakese, language
facilitator for Treaty 4 Education Alliance, as he gestures toward
the rolling hills of the valley. “Even that term ‘land-based,’ I want to
refer to it as ‘Mother Earth teachings,’ or ‘Walking Mother Earth,’ to
convey that kinship connection we all have toward the Earth.”
That connection was disrupted when, after signing treaties,
Canada forcibly removed many Indigenous Peoples from their lands.
The impacts of these actions on Indigenous communities, and to local
ecosystems, were felt across the country. For example, today, after
more than a century of agricultural, urban and resource development,
only 20 per cent of native prairie habitat remains in Saskatchewan,
making conservation efforts vital and urgent.
This urgency to conserve rapidly declining habitats, as well as revive
Indigenous languages and cultural teachings that rely on those lands,
is one of the reasons the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) reached
with the land
WINTER 2019 9
How can you be an organization
that focuses on land without working
with Indigenous communities?
JENNIFER MCKILLOP, NCC ACTING REGIONAL VICE-PRESIDENT, SASKATCHEWAN
out to Treaty 4 Education Alliance, says
Jennifer McKillop, acting NCC regional
vice-president in Saskatchewan.
“It came out of a realization that we are an
organization that deals primarily with land
conservation, and we had few previous partnerships
with Indigenous Peoples in Saskatchewan.
How can you be an organization that
focuses on land without working with Indigenous
communities, the longtime stewards of
Offered in partnership by the Treaty 4 Education
Alliance and NCC, the Learning the
Land project has students learning about natural
habitats and species at risk through
classroom-based activities, such as research
and art-based projects, and outdoor activities,
such as medicine walks and visits to
culturally significant sites on both reserve
lands and NCC properties.
The partnership with NCC was a natural fit
for Treaty 4 Education Alliance, as Indigenous
educators wanted to get students back on the
land to rekindle their cultural connections to it.
“We’ve consistently found that with any
land-based learning initiatives we’ve done
that the students are hungry for it. They want
to see more of it, they enjoy it and they’re
getting a lot out of it,” says Scott Fulton,
Learning the Land consultant with Treaty 4
Education Alliance. “We’re hoping projects
like this will help strengthen land-based
learning, native prairie land conservation and
language revitalization efforts within the alliance
of Treaty 4 schools and communities.”
McKillop is confident that will happen.
“The education piece and the relationships
that are being developed are what will pay
off for everyone in the long run. That’s really
what this is about,” adds McKillop.
In Ontario, Esme Batten agrees. She’s
spent years developing relationships with
members of Chippewas of Nawash Unceded
First Nation and Saugeen First Nation, who
together form the Saugeen Ojibway Nation
(SON). As the coordinator for conservation
biology on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula,
she says the relationships, and the partnerships
that naturally arise from them, are
crucial to her work and the conservation
efforts of NCC.
“If we’re not working with Indigenous communities,
we’re really missing out on a key part
of conservation,” says Batten. “Without the
benefit of thousands of years of really valuable
knowledge, we’re not going to achieve as much
and we’ll use more resources trying to get to
where Indigenous Peoples already are.”
NCC and SON are sharing their knowledge
and expertise to create an inventory of culturally
significant species, medicinal plants,
species at risk and invasive species in the
area. Incorporating Traditional Knowledge
provides a deeper understanding that helps
to develop more effective management planning,
“We can compare our information to what
the Elders say. If they say that a certain species
was really common and now we’re only
documenting, say, 30 plants in an area, and
they remember hundreds, that’s critical information
to know what’s actually happening to
those species in the territory.”
Understanding what’s happening in the territory
is a key reason SON partnered with NCC,
says Doran Ritchie, infrastructure planning coordinator
with SON’s Environment Office.
“It’s an exercise in jurisdictional authority,”
he says. “Saugeen Ojibway Nation has the
right to have a say and give consent to what’s
happening in their territory. Generally this is
a challenge for developers and government to
Left: Darryl Chamakese and his son. Elders
such as Francis Bird (below) are important
knowledge-sharers in the T4E program.
10 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: NEIL OSBORNE. DANE ROY. EHTAN MELEG.
understand what that means. An organization
like NCC is a little more open to the idea
of what that means in translation to what
they’re trying to do. Ultimately, we’re both
trying to preserve and protect these areas.”
This common goal is what makes these partnerships
possible, agrees Colin Richardson,
stewardship director with the Haida Nation
on Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. “Their
value to preserve and protect land is very
consistent with our core Haida value of
Yah’guudang, which is to pay respect. I would
suggest that those two values are very much
in sync with each other and therefore creates
a possibility for a great relationship.”
NCC and the Haida Nation have an incredible
task ahead — a challenging, but potentially
rewarding, partnership opportunity. They
are embarking on an extensive restoration
project that includes co-ownership as well as
co-management. After logging practices resulted
in ecological and cultural damage to
salmon habitat, a BC provincial court decision
resulted in the land being transferred to both
NCC and the Haida Nation to share ownership
and managementof the lands in the Gamdis
Tlagee Conservation Area.
“This is a first for NCC. We continue to
focus on building trust and learning how to
move forward in a mutually respectful relationship,”
says Hillary Page, director of
conservation for NCC in British Columbia.
For the Haida, moving forward in a mutually
respectful relationship means acknowledging
the United Nations Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This comprehensive,
universal framework was drafted
over a 20-year period by Indigenous Peoples
around the world and represents the minimum
standard for engaging with Indigenous Peoples
and their right to maintain their survival,
dignity and well-being in their homelands.
Canada announced its support of UNDRIP in
May 2016. Richardson says he would like to
see this international framework set the foundation
for their relationship with NCC.
Though it takes time and effort to develop
these partnerships, Page recognizes that supporting
one another is crucial to addressing
the quickly diminishing land base.
“We are eager to work hand-in-hand
with local Indigenous communities in order
to achieve culturally and ecologically viable
conservation,” she says.
Back at Saugeen Ojibway Nation, Doran
Ritchie says it’s great that NCC is reaching
out to the Nation, but states that there are
contentious issues to address. He says it’s
vital to understand the history, accept that
A: Saugeen Ojibway Nation
B: T4EA/Learning the Land
Indigenous Peoples are the original owners
of the land, and know the politics of working
with Indigenous Peoples in their traditional and
unceded territories. “They need to know, this
is what it means to work on First Nations land.
Here are our rights, here are our values, here’s
how we want to be included in future plans,”
says Ritchie. “To me that’s what’s important
about working with organizations like NCC.”
Colin Richardson says there needs to be a
meaningful process put in place to understand
and define the relationship, but remembering
their common goals will help move it forward.
Honouring the land
In the Qu’Appelle Valley, Fulton looks towards
the area where the Treaty 4 Gathering is held
each year to honour and strengthen the treaty
relationship. He reflects on the natural alliance
between NCC and the Treaty 4 Education
Alliance when it comes to protecting natural
prairie habitat. “It’s sort of like looking at
pre-colonized landscapes and the value of
those landscapes,” he says.
That connection to the past is what’s
guiding the future of the Learning the Land
project as it enters its fifth year and embarks
upon a mapping project that includes Indigenous
place names. Valuing those landscapes
supports Indigenous students to learn their
history and relationship to the land and
The NCC/Indigenous collaborations featured in this
issue (A,B,C) are but three of many across the country.
C: Haida Gwaii
revive their languages and cultural teachings,
“There’s that really deep, deep history
that goes way back, way further than 1874,
that our youth have to learn, otherwise we
are colonized,” says Chamakese. “This whole
Qu’Appelle Valley, kâ-têpwêwi-sîpiy (“Calling
River” in Cree), is what it was called. There’s
areas where people would hunt and pick berries,
and sacred sites that define who we are
as a people. That’s the exciting thing about
this mapping project, is that we get students
to start learning the original place names of
these areas, but also the traditional lands, the
rivers and the little lakes, the sacred sites.”
In an area where natural, pre-contact landscapes
are quickly diminishing, these kinds
of collaborations signal a shift toward what
Indigenous Peoples refer to as the “spirit and
intent” of the treaties. By working together,
such innovative collaborations can help provide
tangible ways to protect the land and cultures
for our children and grandchildren. It starts
by taking respectful, deliberate, relationshipbuilding
steps toward what it really means to
share the land for the benefit of all.1
Michelle Brass is a writer and journalist
who lives in Saskatchewan. She is of
Saulteaux heritage and a member of the
Yellow Quill First Nation.
WINTER 2019 11
the prairies at up to
60 kilometres per
hour, the swift fox
is aptly named
12 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
SIZE AND APPEARANCE
North America’s smallest canine species, the
swift fox is about the size of a housecat and
weighs up to three kilograms. Its fur is pale,
yellowish-red and grey, with a thick grey
stripe down its back that extends to its
black-tipped tail. Its underside is lighter in
colour, and it has black patches on either
side of its muzzle.
This species ranges from southern Alberta
and Saskatchewan, south into Texas and
New Mexico. Today, swift foxes only occur
in about 40 per cent of their historic range.
Many populations are now isolated.
Because swift foxes spend more time
underground than any other canine species,
their dens are very important to their
survival. They use them year-round for
protection against predators and as
a place to raise their young.
Swift foxes hunt mainly at night. They will,
however, sun themselves around their dens
during the day. They primarily feed on
rodents, but will also eat birds and their
eggs, insects, plants and carrion.
In Canada, swift foxes are now found in
only a small area of prairie grasslands in
southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. More
than 70 per cent of Canada’s native prairie
grasslands have been lost, and they are
continuing to disappear. The protection of
these grasslands is critical to the survival
of the swift fox and other species that
depend on this habitat.
To help protect habitat for species such as the
swift fox, visit giftsofnature.ca.
A swift recovery
The return of swift foxes is one of the most
successful species reintroduction stories in
Canada. Once abundant in the short- and
mixed-grass prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan
and southwestern Manitoba, they were no
longer found in Canada in the 1930s. Their
decline was primarily the result of habitat loss.
In 1973, a privately run program began
breeding swift foxes in captivity in the United
States, so that they could eventually be
reintroduced back into the wild in Canada. With
the help of federal agencies, non-governmental
organizations and academia, including the
Cochrane Ecological Institute and the Calgary
Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research,
the program has been one of Canada’s most
successful species reintroductions. The first
captive-raised swift foxes were reintroduced
along the Alberta–Saskatchewan border and
the Milk River Ridge areas in 1983. These foxes
survived, and over the years more captive-bred
animals were reintroduced into the wild.
Between 1983 and 1997, more than 900 animals
were released in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Today there are approximately 650 swift foxes
living in Canada. This population appears to be
stable, and is now connected to populations in
Montana. This species is classified as threatened
under Canada’s Species at Risk Act and is still at
risk because of habitat loss and fragmentation.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s)
landscape-scale work in prairie areas, such as
in southeastern Alberta, is helping to protect
swift fox habitat.
This past July, a swift fox den was discovered on
an NCC conservation site in southeast Alberta.
This discovery is proof that the work of conservation
organizations like NCC to secure and
steward privately owned land is helping species
at risk — in this case, providing a home to help
in the recovery of this threatened species.
By working together with local communities,
other land trust organizations and private
landowners, NCC will continue to conserve
and steward these lands to ensure animals like
the swift fox still have wild places to live.1
WINTER 2019 13
Want to learn more?
to learn more about these and other NCC projects.
The Next Creek watershed lies in the middle of Darkwoods, the Nature
Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) flagship conservation area in southeastern
British Columbia. Currently, most of Next Creek is not part of the conservation
area; it is privately owned and unprotected. But not for long.
We are actively fundraising to acquire and steward the 19,500-acre (9,700-hectare)
Next Creek property. This campaign will expand Darkwoods by 14 per cent and
bring essential habitat under conservation management for dozens of species at risk.
It will enhance protection within the world’s only inland temperate rainforest.
In November, NCC staff joined the federal minister of Environment and Climate
Change Canada, Catherine McKenna, and BC Minister of Environment and Climate
Change Strategy, George Heyman, to celebrate the significant contributions made
by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia to support
habitat conservation in the Canadian Rockies.
Together, the governments’ investments total $14.65 million ($7 million from
the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program and
$7.65 million from the Province of British Columbia). The funds will directly support
the expansion of Darkwoods through the acquisition of the Next Creek property.
We are now looking to raise $2 million from private individuals, businesses
and foundations to complete this project.
Darkwoods and Next Creek are located along Kootenay Lake, between Nelson
and Creston. The threat of industrial or incompatible recreational activity makes
the acquisition in the Next Creek property NCC’s highest conservation priority in BC.
Darkwoods provides essential habitat for 50 species at risk, including grizzly
bear, wolverine, mountain caribou and whitebark pine.
The Darkwoods expansion is part of NCC’s initiative to raise and invest at
least $25 million to significantly expand its conservation work in the Canadian
Rockies region. NCC aims to acquire more land for conservation in this natural
area, undertake restoration of high priority degraded sites and work with
partners to protect ecosystems and wildlife.
To learn more and to donate, go to natureconservancy.ca/darkwoods.
GRIZZLY BEAR: DONALD M. JONES/MINDEN PICTURES. DARKWOODS: GORDON MACPHERSON.
The mountains of Darkwoods rise from the shores of Kootenay Lake,
encompassing an impressive diversity of habitats.
14 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
It is possible that
may not be able to
survive in the dry
climate of the prairies.
Good news for little
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: DENNIS MINTY. ISTOCK. COURTESY JOE POISSANT. STEVE GETTLE/MINDEN PICTURES.
Big news about the little brown bat
Joe Poissant, a bat researcher working with NCC, recently found endangered little brown myotis (also
known as little brown bat) living at NCC’s Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area
(OMB). This isn’t just unusual because the species is endangered, but also because the little brown
myotis normally roosts in tree cavities. OMB is a large area of mixed prairie grassland, with few trees.
This summer, Poissant recorded the sounds of little brown myotis at OMB using Anabats — passive
ultrasonic recording devices. Since little brown bats don’t migrate long distances, Poissant thinks they
may be roosting in structures like old brick buildings or barns and hibernating at only a few degrees
above zero during the winter.
Little brown myotis have been federally listed as endangered largely due to white-nose syndrome. It
is possible the fungus may not be able to survive in the dry climate of the prairie. NCC staff and volunteers
have built and placed bat boxes in the OMB area and other properties to ensure that the species has
places to roost this spring.
In collaboration with the Kenauk Institute, NCC is working to deepen
its understanding of wolves and other large mammals found at the
Kenauk property, to ensure that conservation and management actions
will protect these species.
This February, teams of volunteer cross-country skiers will monitor
Kenauk’s ski trails, on the lookout for eastern wolves and eastern coyotes.
Their observations of animals, tracks and scat will help them
estimate the population size of eastern wolves and to study the species’
genetic makeup. Eastern wolves are threatened in Canada, due to the
fragmentation of their habitat and their hybridization with coyotes. This
information will help advance our knowledge on eastern wolves, whose
range is restricted to the large forests of central Ontario and Quebec.1
Lowe’s Canada is committed
to reducing the environmental
footprint of its operations,
including the amount of waste
that is being sent to landfills.
To that effect, the company has
taken tangible measures to
encourage customers to stop
using plastic bags when shopping.
This year, to provide a deterrent
to the use of these bags and
incite customers to change their
shopping habits, the company
implemented a charge for plastic
bags at all its Lowe’s, RONA and
Reno-Depot corporate stores: 5¢
for standard plastic bags and
10¢ for thicker bags. Profits from
this initiative are donated to the
Nature Conservancy of Canada
(NCC) to fund conservation
across the country.
NCC has 90 priority natural areas
across the country where we are
continually seeking opportunities
to conserve new lands. This
advantageous partnership with
Lowe’s Canada will provide NCC
with the resources we need to
protect the natural areas we love
and the species they sustain.
with the land
Eli Enns shares how Indigenous-led conservation efforts
can help foster reconciliation between people and nature
16 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
Eli Enns recalls being around 10 years old
and watching his Uncle Joe carve a traditional
dugout canoe on the shore of Echachist.
An old whaling village, Echachist is located at the
westernmost part of Canada, about a 10-minute
boat ride from Tofino, British Columbia.
*Target 1 is Canada’s national
initiative to conserve at least
17 per cent of our terrestrial and
inland waters and 10 per cent
of our marine and coastal areas
through networks of protected
areas and other effective
area-based measures by 2020.
After watching his uncle meticulously carve away at the red cedar
wood, Enns decided to explore the remote and quiet island.
“There’s not many animals on the island, as it’s quite inaccessible
from the large tides ripping around it,” he describes. “As I came
up over a ridge, there was a deer standing there. We were a couple
metres apart and looked each other in the eye. That moment always
stayed with me.”
Enns is a Nuu-chah-nulth Canadian political scientist and internationally
recognized expert in biocultural heritage conservation.
He is the co-founder of the Ha’uukmin Tribal Park in the Clayoquot
Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Vancouver Island, where his
father’s ancestry originates.
Enns also serves as the co-chair on the Indigenous Circle of
Experts (ICE). ICE is dedicated to leading conservation efforts in
Canada around Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)
and their significance toward achieving Canada’s Target 1 * in the
spirit of reconciliation.
“For me, the most important and integral part of what an IPCA is,
is that it’s a modern day application of very old, traditional governance
models. The heart and soul of an IPCA is the language, the culture
and the traditional governance values and principles,” says Enns.
“Ha’uukmin Tribal Park is based on the ha’hopa and the ha’houlthee,
the old laws of uyuthluk usma — the understanding of the relationship
with the land.”
According to Enns, the distinction between a Tribal Park or an
IPCA and a national or provincial park is that sustainable livelihoods
are taken into account in Tribal Parks and IPCAs.
“It’s a key element in the creation of IPCAs. In order for there to
be maintained healthy biodiversity, we need to continue to have
a relationship with the land. Part of
that relationship is using the land. It
all goes back to the law of reciprocity.”
Reciprocity plays a significant role
in how Indigenous Peoples in Canada
interact with and care for the land.
“One thing my Uncle Levi always
told me was that whenever we take
something from the land, we have to
give something back,” recalls Enns.
This take-less, give-more approach
with the land is how Indigenous communities
have lived since the start
of Creation, and is something Enns
practices in his personal relationship
with Mother Earth.
“It was something I always knew
about intellectually before I learned it
experientially. It was shortly after my
father passed away, and I experienced
Native licorice ferns, as Eli Enns explains, are important
to his family history and Indigenous culture.
it while fishing with my Uncle Joe,” recalls
Enns. “When heading home from fishing,
my uncle pulled up the boat beside a small
islet of rocks and asked one of us to collect
eggs from the seabird nests above. I grabbed
a bucket and climbed the rocks, not sure
what to expect. The birds were very upset
that I was there. I was an intruder on their
land. It made my heart feel disturbed.”
Enns believes that through reciprocity
and protecting the land, we are taking steps
toward nation to nation reconciliation.
Before returning to the boat, Enns found
the teaching he needed from the land — one
that would shape his relationship with Mother
Earth for the rest of his life.
“I found a nest, but was relieved to see
that the eggs were all hatched or had been
eaten by a predator. When I turned around,
I saw my Uncle Joe gutting the fish we had
caught and leaving it for the birds to eat. It
was an exchange of energy. In that moment,
it made my heart feel better. I went back out
and, without a heavy heart, was able to find
some eggs. This was the reciprocity that my
Uncle Levi had taught me.”1
with the land is
lived since the
start of Creation.
WINTER 2019 17
Written by Gary A. Bouchard,
traditional name: Zhowno Biness
(Thunderbird of the South),
from Pays Plat First Nation,
traditional name: Pawgwasheeng
To read Gary’s story in full, visit
Last night was probably my final night for this blessedly long season on the Big Lake (Lake
Superior) in Ontario. I was there monitoring for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
Since 2012, each field season I assess visitor disturbance and overall traffic, and I check
for invasive species. The days are quite long, but any day on Lake Superior will always surpass
any day in any office. I love monitoring Wilson Island, the Powder Islands and others on the lake.
Last night was my last night of sleeping on the boat under the stars and being woken up by
a pesky whiskey jack (gray jay) chirping and breaking off tiny sticks and twigs to throw at my
head. This morning, I check on a nearby eagle’s nest to see if she’s still there, keeping me in
check…She is. “Boozhoo, kookum migiizii” — Hello, Grandmother Eagle.
The sky is dark and grey; typical for a November morning on Gitchigumee (Lake Superior).
I think of how I hardly feel the waves anymore, and how those who may have never been
on the Big Lake, or haven’t been for some years, can “still feel the waves” for some time after
coming off Lake Superior. I also think that I should always take more pictures or videos, as
there are so many people that don’t get to appreciate what I get to every day.
There’s nothing like being on the Big Lake. It can be quite tiring. The fresh air doesn’t get
to me like it used to; it doesn’t wear me out as much as it does those I take out. During the
community Fish Derby, a 16-hour day is quite common.
I look out on the waters and see that they are pure lake water, green and blue. I can recall
taking out youth from our multicultural centre and how they were completely amazed by the
colours of Lake Superior: the shores, the huge waves, the shock from diving in. I forget what
it’s like to see all this beauty for the first time.
There’s nothing like my life.1
18 WINTER 2019 natureconservancy.ca
Join Canadians across the country in achieving the largest private fundraising
campaign in Canada’s history.
Your gift to the Landmark Campaign will help conserve more land faster, connect more Canadians to nature
and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders. But none of this will be possible without you!
Donate today and protect nature’s tomorrow.
We are better
Thank you for joining us in the single largest
private fundraising campaign for conservation
in Canada: the Landmark Campaign. We need
to do more, faster, and we can’t do it without
our donors and supporters.
EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS
Together, we can accelerate
the pace of conservation and
double the amount of land and
water protected by NCC, helping
to restore rare habitats, support
species at risk and improve the
quality of our air and water. There
are several ways you can contribute,
including giving monthly or
making a legacy gift.
Monthly giving is easy, flexible and
convenient. When you spread your
donation out during the year, we
can invest in long-term projects to
protect and restore wildlife habitat,
every single day.
Legacy gifts are important for NCC’s
long-term conservation planning.
You can leave a gift in your Will,
make a gift of publicly traded
securities or of RRSP/RRIF, a gift
of life insurance or a gift of land.
NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA
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Thank you for your support.
Marketing and Development
Why this city boy chose to
support nature conservation
I am a city boy who has spent my entire life
living close to downtown Montreal. So why do
I support the Nature Conservancy of Canada?
Why do I occasionally spend a day in the country
cleaning up a mess left behind by other people,
or pulling out plants that never should have
crossed the Atlantic Ocean?
Because I feel a deep need to do something to help
conserve nature in Canada. When I go hiking, the
mountains, rivers and lakes of eastern Canada inspire
something in me. Helping NCC financially on a regular
basis through monthly donations, and occasionally
volunteering, are the best ways I know to leave this
natural legacy for others to enjoy.
The great biologist E. O. Wilson once said in a conference
I attended that he believed we have a moral
imperative to stop destroying the environment, so that
other species can continue on their evolutionary path.
If our actions drive humanity to extinction, that would
be tragic, indeed. What moral right do we have to
destroy the environment that is crucial to the survival
of plants and animals that share our planet?
So, when the Nature Conservancy of Canada acquires
land to protect salamanders, or turtles, or rare finches,
I get it. And I want to do whatever I can to help.
~ Peter Solonysznyj has been an NCC Leader in
Conservation and Conservation Volunteer since 2008
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