First Nation Calls for Park

August 29, 2007

The Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) is proposing a scenic wilderness park four times the size of Winnipeg (160,000 ha) be created to permanently safeguard the area from all industrial developments. This initiative is part of the community’s journey to protect nature, culture, and economic opportunity.

“Securing the area in its natural state will ensure that traditional activities can continue and will allow us to build our local economy with eco- and cultural tourism ventures,” said the FRCN Chief David Crate. “It’s a good way to make sure our treaty rights are upheld and abundant wildlife populations remain strong.”

The Ochiwasahow (Fisher Bay) park reserve was established in 1999 based on a nomination by the FRCN. The park reserve is protected from industrial activities such as logging and mining while a park is being considered. Through this process, the province is obligated to consult local First Nations and gather input from all Manitobans about the future of the area.

Special Report

The FRCN, along with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and
the Wilderness Committee (WC), recently released a report entitled
Ochiwasahow: the Fisher Bay area. The report proposes new expanded
boundaries for the park reserve based on what the FRCN and the
environmental groups consider the best marriage of ecological and cultural

“CPAWS commends the FRCN for their vision to protect their lands and
waters for future generations,” said CPAWS Manitoba Executive Director Ron
Thiessen. “We look forward to working with the government, local
communities, and all Manitobans to honour the FRCN’s plan for Fisher Bay
and its surrounding landscape,” Thiessen added.

Public Support

Manitoban’s support for protecting the lands and waters of Fisher Bay is
overwhelming. Over 5,800 letters have been sent by citizens to Premier
Doer encouraging government action to grant the FRCN’s request for
permanent protection of the area. Also, Peguis First Nation, Jackhead
First Nation, Arborg, Riverton, and the RM of Coldwell have formally
supported Fisher River Cree Nation’s protected area request.

“Manitobans have demonstrated they understand the need to preserve the
lands and waters of our province, and the Fisher River Cree Nation has
taken great steps to do just that.” said Wilderness Committee Manitoba
Campaign Director Eric Reder. “Now it’s important that our provincial
government makes protection of this area a high priority,” added Reder.

The Area

Located on the south-west basin of Lake Winnipeg, the Ochiwasahow (Fisher
Bay) park reserve is First Nations traditional territory and home to
wildlife such as bears, moose, fox, eagles, and a variety of songbirds.
The picturesque area is blessed with treed shorelines, long sandy beaches,
large islands covered with old-growth forests, reefs, and the water of the

Why we should save it

The Ochiwasahow (Fisher Bay) park reserve is part of the Earth’s largest
forest, the wild boreal region. The boreal forest is the world’s greatest
source of fresh water and is deemed the “northern lungs of the planet.” As
the biggest single land storehouse of carbon, it also plays an important
role in regulating global climate. The report states that since 25% of the
Earth’s remaining intact forests are in Canada, we have a huge
responsibility to ensure big wild places like the Fisher Bay region
continue to flourish as an essential part of the Earth’s life support

The report also states that every Canadian relies on the boreal for either
a job, food, supplies, or recreation while local communities depend on it
for traditional activities and emerging sustainable economic

Government Action Required

The FRCN, CPAWS, and WC are asking the Manitoba government to take
immediate action to establish a new park according to the specifications
requested by the FRCN. The groups state this government action will be a
huge step toward a healthy and sustainable future for Manitobans,
Canadians, and the Earth.


For More information contact:

Chief David Crate (FRCN): 781-8016
Ron Thiessen (CPAWS): 794-4971
Eric Reder (Wilderness Committee): 997-8584

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