Your Voice Needed! Help Protect Pemmican Island in Lake Winnipegosis

Picture of a Double Crested Cormorant on the lake
June 6, 2023

A small island with a large cultural and ecological significance could soon become a provincial park if the government of Manitoba hears from enough people who want to protect Pemmican Island in Lake Winnipegosis.

After many years of efforts by local First Nations and CPAWS Manitoba, the province has launched a formal proposal to protect this culturally and ecologically important island.

There are only two questions on the government’s survey, so please take two minutes to tell the province that you want this beautiful island conserved for people and wildlife. 

“There’s very nice, pristine spring water that you can just basically get a cup and just drink it. That’s how clean it is,” Chief Nelson Genaille of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation told CBC after temporary measures to protect the island expired in 2016.

“We need to protect this area.”

“Protecting Pemmican Island would be an act of reconciliation by acknowledging the significance of this island to local Indigenous communities,” said Ron Thiessen, Executive Director of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“Pemmican Island provides habitat for many water birds, including nesting grounds for double-crested cormorant,” Thiessen said. “Protecting it from development will also help preserve the health of Canada’s 12th largest lake.”

Several other birds including the American white pelican, herring gull, ring-billed gull, Caspian tern and common merganser have been observed on the island.

Limestone cliffs on the east and south shores of the island are separated from the flat, sandy beaches by bands of trees. Inland areas contain mature forest stands of American elm, Manitoba maple, and trembling aspen. 

The 27.5 hectare island is about 23 kilometres east of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, 20 kilometres southwest of Chemawawin Cree Nation and 175 kilometres north of Dauphin. 

The Manitoba government is proposing to classify Pemmican Island as a natural park, and to designate the lands within the park under the backcountry land use category (LUC). 

Areas designated under the backcountry land use category contribute to Manitoba’s network of protected and conserved areas by legally prohibiting commercial logging, mining, hydroelectric development, oil and gas development, exploration for or harvest of peat, and any other activity that may significantly and adversely affect habitat.

Several other birds including the American white pelican, herring gull, ring-billed gull, Caspian tern and common merganser have been observed on the island.

The government’s survey closes on June 25, 2023. The government is also consulting with local Indigenous communities as it’s key that their needs are met with this designation. 

More information is available in this backgrounder.

The province states that the rights of Indigenous peoples to access this area for hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional pursuits would continue to be respected.

–Thanks in part to the National Audubon Society for making this blog possible. CPAWS greatly appreciates its support of our boreal conservation efforts in Manitoba–

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