Former Blackfeet Nation Chairman Harry Barnes signs the Buffalo Treaty in 2014., Stephen Legault
Former Blackfeet Nation Chairman Harry Barnes signs the Buffalo Treaty in 2014. © Stephen Legault

Indigenous partnerships

Our scientific research takes place on Indigenous lands and waters. We are committed to reconciliation through research and conservation of wildlife, lands, and waters with Indigenous Peoples.

Our scientific research takes place on Indigenous lands and waters. We are committed to reconciliation through supporting Indigenous-led conservation and partnering to meet Indigenous goals by conducting research and conservation of wildlife, lands, and waters. This requires a shift towards conservation approaches and practices that respect and recognize Indigenous Knowledge systems as well as a recognition of the right of Indigenous Peoples to protect their lands, worldviews, and Knowledge systems. We partner directly with Indigenous Peoples to undertake scientific research and support conservation goals.

WCS Canada recognizes the rights and title of Indigenous Peoples. We commit to respectfully engage with Indigenous Peoples when our work affects or concerns their interests.

Partnerships and collaborations

Some of the ways in which we work with First Nations and the Inuvialuit are by co-developing research on cultural keystone species, such as lake sturgeon and bison, assessing marine mammal diets and health through community-based monitoring, and supporting the planning, establishment and management of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs).

  • We are working with the Moose Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario to document lake sturgeon, or namayo, movements in the North French (known as Kah Ban Yow Sipi or Meh Ko Poh Meh Shtik Sipi in Cree) and Lower Mattagami Rivers within the Moose Cree Homeland. Freshwater fish remain important for food security and cultural and spiritual values for many Indigenous Peoples throughout Canada, but fish are facing threats ranging from warming waters to hydroelectric development that changes water flows, degrades spawning areas and can impact migratory fishes. We are also working to communicate and discuss our research on freshwater fish conservation in northern Ontario to First Nations.

  • We are working with interested communities, such as the Weenusk First Nation, on community-based research and monitoring (CBM) efforts, building on our comprehensive report on CBM programs in Canada and around the world.

  • We are working with Inuvialuit communities through a partnership with community Hunter and Trapper Committees, focused on assessing seal diets and health (e.g., contaminants) as indicators of a changing Arctic ecosystem. Through our partnership, WCS Canada contributes scientific information as well as training to the Community-Based Monitoring Program for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). This program informs and supports decisions by resource managers and developers, Inuvialuit organizations and wildlife co-management boards tasked with managing the wildlife and lands in the ISR.

  • We are working in partnership and collaboration with several First Nations, including the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, on their land-use plans and land stewardship frameworks in Yukon, collaborating on key pieces of research focused on salmon spawning monitoring and permafrost erosion, cumulative effects on species at risk, and applying Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge to develop conservation priority maps.

  • WCS Canada helped organize a meeting of the American Bison Society in Banff, Alberta, which included a ceremony to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the signing of the Buffalo Treaty. The treaty serves to honor, recognize, and revitalize the sacred relationship First Nations of North America have with buffalo.

Our work with Indigenous communities is based on partnership, trust, and the recognition of the need to advance the cultural, social, spiritual, physical and economic well-being of Indigenous Peoples. We aim for conservation outcomes that serve both the environment and the needs of the communities we work with.

Through our work, we hope to deliver on the recommendations of the Indigenous Circle of Experts. WCS Canada is a member of the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership.

Projects

Assessing seal diet and health

Assessing seal diet and health

We are working with Inuit in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to assess seal diets and contaminants as indicators of a changing Arctic ecosystem.

Learning from Lake Sturgeon

Learning from Lake Sturgeon

Big fish need healthy rivers.

Documenting the impacts of underwater noise

Documenting the impacts of underwater noise

Addressing impacts from shipping and climate change in the western Arctic

Resources


Stories and op-eds

New insights into an ancient fish
2024-05-09

New insights into an ancient fish

Known as namew in Ililîmowin (the Moose Cree dialect), lake sturgeon in English: these are the largest freshwater fish in Canada.
Claire Farrell
Reflecting on Canadian Mountain Network’s Knowledge Sharing Summit 2023
2023-10-27

Reflecting on Canadian Mountain Network’s Knowledge Sharing Summit 2023

Cheyenne MacDonald, BSc, L'nua'tikete'w/Indigenous Relations Associate, reflects on September’s Canadian Mountain Network’s (3rd annual) Braiding Knowledge Sharing Summit
Cheyenne MacDonald
Connecting with Rivers: Reflections from Moose Cree Youth Ocean Skye Phillips
2023-09-19

Connecting with Rivers: Reflections from Moose Cree Youth Ocean Skye Phillips

My name is Ocean Phillips. I’m a 20-year-old Moose Cree youth, living in Kapuskasing Ontario.

Media coverage

What will it take to protect Ontario’s caribou?

With the population declining, First Nations, environmentalists, and others are working together to safeguard boreal caribou — and their habitat — before it’s too late
2021-08-05 | TVO

Our team

Cheyenne MacDonald

Cheyenne MacDonald

L'nua'tikete'w/Indigenous Relations Associate

Brodie Schmidt

Brodie Schmidt

Communities and Conservation Research Associate

Christopher Addison

Christopher Addison

Indigenous-led Conservation Specialist

Claire Farrell

Claire Farrell

Science and Youth Coordinator

Thomas Komarniski

Thomas Komarniski

Key Biodiversity Areas Indigenous Outreach Associate