Fisher River Cree Nation and environmental group renew plea for provincial park

March 12, 2009

WINNIPEG, March 10. The Fisher River Cree Nation and a leading environmental organization are taking their campaign for a wilderness park to the Manitoba legislature. The groups will appeal directly to elected legislators and the NDP government to finish the job they started and create a new provincial park.

They will be hosting a press event on Tuesday, March 10, at 11:30 a.m. in Room 334 of the provincial legislature building. Members of the press and the public are welcome to attend.

“Ten years ago we asked Manitoba to protect a special place within our traditional territory in Fisher Bay of Lake Winnipeg,” recalls Chief David Crate of the Fisher River Cree. “We were full of hope that we could soon safeguard our area and share our culture and beautiful wilderness with the whole province.”

In response to that initiative, Manitoba established the Fisher Bay Park Reserve which temporarily protects part of the area that the Fisher River Cree nominated.

“We want to congratulate the government for taking a good step that day,” says Crate. “But we are still waiting. We’re asking the province to finish the job and create the Ochiwasahow (Fisher Bay) Provincial Park with the larger boundaries that we are requesting.”

The project appears stalled, explains the leader of the Fisher River Cree. The province has yet to do the studies and consultations required to establish a park. Time is running out as the area’s protected status will expire in 2010.

Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, shares Chief Crate’s impatience. His group has been working with the Fisher River community to promote the park.

The effort included a massive letter-writing campaign to Premier Doer, which resulted in 10,000 letters of support from Manitobans of all ages and interests. Politicians of all political stripes also came out in favour of the park. They include Jon Gerrard, member of the provincial legislature and Liberal leader; Conservative MP James Bezan, who represents the Selkirk-Interlake riding which includes Fisher Bay; and Bill Blaikie, former MP for the New Democratic Party, who is seeking nomination for the Manitoba provincial riding of Elmwood.

“Manitobans know how fortunate we are to have one of the most important ecological and cultural treasures in the province, just two hours from Winnipeg,” Thiessen says. “It would be a crime if the province misses this opportunity to permanently protect the Fisher Bay region.”

For more information:

Ron Thiessen, CPAWS Manitoba, 204 794 4971 or 204-949-0782

Chief David Crate, Fisher River Cree Nation, 204-781-8016 or 204- 645-2171

Fisher Bay online report – https://cpawsmb.orgconservation/fisherbay1.php

Print quality photos of the Fisher Bay region and its wildlife available upon request – contact Ron Thiessen at 204 794 4971 or [email protected]

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