Feds offer $800M in funding for Indigenous led conservation efforts

 By Scott Hayes

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There’s a wealth of new federal funding coming for four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives.

While none are located in Jasper National Park or even in Alberta, the announcement sets an ambitious goal for land protections across the country. It also signals a watershed moment in the involvement of Indigenous Peoples in environmental stewardship.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced up to $800 million in funding for the projects over seven years, starting in 2023.

The funding will support up to four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives that, once completed, could protect an additional one million square kilometres toward Canada’s goals of conserving 25 per cent of its land and waters by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030.

“Indigenous Peoples have been guardians of the land, waters, and ice of this continent for millennia,” said Steven Guilbeault, minister of Environment and Climate Change, in a statement.

“Canada’s ambitious biodiversity goals can only be met in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis. By coupling Indigenous and Western science, we can fight the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, strengthen our relationships with Indigenous communities, and build a better future for everyone.”

The investment will go to support the establishment of protected areas through an innovative funding model called Project Finance for Permanence.

The partner-based model will have Indigenous organizations, governments and the philanthropic community all at the table to identify shared goals to protect nature and prevent biodiversity loss.

“Indigenous Peoples have been stewards of the land and water for generations, and are profoundly connected to them,” added Joyce Murray, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in the statement.

“This new funding will support Indigenous-led marine conservation initiatives to protect our shared coasts and oceans for the next seven generations.”

The four conservation initiatives are located in the Northernshelf Bioregion of British Columbia, the Qikiqtani Region in Nunavut, Ontario’s Hudson Bay Lowlands and the coastline of Western Hudson Bay and southwestern James Bay.

The funding will also unite 30 Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories.

The announcement promoted the concept of cooperation as much as it did the importance of Indigenous involvement in conservation efforts.

“Our government is here as a partner. And today, we took an important step forward, together, to deliver a vision of conservation that has partnership and reconciliation at its core,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.

“I’m looking forward to our shared work to deliver results for communities and for the nature that sustains us all.”

  Scott Hayes is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the JASPER FITZHUGH. The LJI program is federally funded.

Add Your Voice

Is there more to this story? We'd like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Contribute your voice on our contribute page.