From Left: Minister Eric Robinson, Premier Greg Selinger, NCN Deputy Chief Ron Spence, Minister Dave Chomiak, NCN Councillor Willie Moore, NCN Resource Management Board Co-Chair Gord Dumas, NCN Director of Lands Ed Vystrcil, NCN Resource Management Board member Ed Primerose, Indigenous Leadership Initiative representative Shaunna Morgan- Siegers, CPAWS Manitoba Executive Director Ron Thiessen.
On Monday, CPAWS joined members of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and Premier Selinger for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding land use planning focused on conservation and resource management of NCN’s 22,000 square kilometer resource management area within the boreal forest of Manitoba. CPAWS has been supporting NCN’s present land use planning with funding and expertise since January 2014.
In a press release, NCN discussed the MOU and funding provided by the province.
“The MOU affirms a previous commitment of $60,000, commits $75,000 of new funding and creates a framework to fulfill obligations to land use and resource management planning under the 1977 Northern Flood Agreement (NFA), and the 1996 NFA Implementation Agreement.”
CPAWS has worked with NCN and others in holding the province accountable to past commitments. In November, the province announced there would be new funding for Indigenous Nations within the boreal forest of Manitoba who wish to conduct land use planning in their resource areas. Premier Selinger stated at that press conference that the province will provide sufficient resources for this purpose although to date, no specific funding allocation has been granted. CPAWS and its partners are continuing efforts and we are hopeful that this MOU is a sign that a larger fund for Indigenous-led Land Use planning will be established.
NCN Deputy Chief Ron Spence spoke on Monday’s announcement. “It recognizes our vision for a prosperous socioeconomic future while protecting the ecological and cultural integrity of our lands, waters and resources in the boreal forest,” Land Use Planning is a cost effective way to create a roadmap for long-term prosperity, protect our culture and the environment and increase certainty for investors.”
Of the MOU, Premier Selinger said ‘’It’s sustainable economic development, it’s social justice and equity, it’s protecting the environment and finding a way to grow sustainably so people can have employment opportunities in the future for all of your people.’’ He also highlighted the importance of the Boreal including its role as a valuable carbon sink in a time of climate change.
As evidenced by First Nations that have conducted and completed land use plans on the east side of Lake Winnipeg as well as our productive dialogues with many Indigenous, government, and industry leaders, CPAWS believes that Indigenous-led land use planning is a key mechanism for establishing certainty for conservation, sustainable developments, and benefits for local communities in Manitoba’s boreal forest region, which covers about 80% of the province.