NCC winter 2019 magazine




the land

Indigenous-led conservation efforts can help foster

reconciliation between humans and the land


New pathways

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

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 | 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.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine is distributed to donors and supporters of NCC.


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2 WINTER 2019



Nature Conservancy of Canada


14 Fighting climate change

with conservation

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

Discovering my

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



Fighting climate

change with


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.




4 WINTER 2019

Here are five examples from across

Canada where NCC is helping to reduce

the impacts of climate change

British Columbia

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.



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.

Atlantic Canada

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.

Pointe Saint-Pierre

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.


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,


6 WINTER 2019



Water smart

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.


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

our children.”1


• Barrow’s goldeneye

• common eider

• grey seal

• merlin

• whimbrel



Offers three trails totalling 10 kilometres.

Bring your snowshoes and your binoculars.1

Nature Destinations

Learn more at

WINTER 2019 7

A kinship

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

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?


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

the land?”

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.

Building relationships

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,

says Batten.

“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


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.”

Sharing values

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,

says Chamakese.

“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





Travelling across

the prairies at up to

60 kilometres per

hour, the swift fox

is aptly named


12 WINTER 2019


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

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.

Protecting prairies

for predators

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




Expanding Darkwoods




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


The mountains of Darkwoods rise from the shores of Kootenay Lake,

encompassing an impressive diversity of habitats.

14 WINTER 2019

It is possible that

white-nose syndrome

may not be able to

survive in the dry

climate of the prairies.

Good news for little

brown bats!




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.

Cross-country skiing

for conservation


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


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

The take-less,

give-more approach

with the land is

how Indigenous

communities have

lived since the

start of Creation.

WINTER 2019 17





like it

Written by Gary A. Bouchard,

traditional name: Zhowno Biness

(Thunderbird of the South),

from Pays Plat First Nation,

traditional name: Pawgwasheeng

(Shallow Water).

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



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.


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.


245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410, Toronto, ON M4P 3J1









Thank you for your support.

M. Rittinger

Mark Rittinger


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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