Manitoba First Nations and governments ink agreement to assess safeguarding of unspoiled Seal River watershed

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Manitoba First Nations, governments sign deal to study protection of pristine Seal River watershed



“Manitoba is Leading the Way to Protecting Sacred Indigenous Lands: Representatives from Indigenous communities are proud to be at the forefront of preserving one of Canada’s few untouched areas. The Manitoba and federal governments, alongside the Indigenous-led Seal River Watershed Alliance, have officially signed an agreement to conduct a comprehensive study on designating the vast region west of Churchill as an Indigenous protected area or a potential national park reserve. This milestone event marks a significant step towards environmental conservation and the promotion of Indigenous rights and knowledge.

Empowering Indigenous Voices: Stephanie Thorassie, the executive director of the Seal River Watershed Alliance, delivered a powerful message during the agreement’s signing. She emphasized the importance of Indigenous leadership in the protection of ancestral lands and waters. For centuries, external influences have dictated the lives and territories of Indigenous communities. Now, they are taking a stand to define their environmental care practices. Their leading role in this critical initiative symbolizes their resilience and determination to hold the pen that writes their future.

A New Type of Development: The groundwork for this partnership was laid during the UN’s COP15 biodiversity conference, where the federal and provincial governments announced their alliance with the Seal River Watershed Alliance. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault highlighted the significant progress achieved through this partnership and acknowledged the importance of withdrawing the land from potential mining exploration, demonstrating a compelling shift in the approach to land management and preservation.

Acknowledging Sacred Land and Waters: Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew firmly emphasized that the agreement was not only a testament to Indigenous leadership but also a crucial step towards reconciliation, particularly in the economic sphere. By paving the way for eco-tourism and sustainable development opportunities, Kinew is ensuring equitable access to learn from elders and maintain the enduring legacy of knowledge and tradition.

Preserving the Unspoiled Land: The Seal River Watershed Alliance’s Mission: The remarkably pristine Seal River watershed is home to unique flora and fauna, and harbors over 22 known species at risk. As Barren Lands First Nation Chief Michael Sewap expressed, this vast, untouched land holds immeasurable value. The region’s unparalleled natural beauty and rich ecosystems are scarce in today’s world and warrant relentless protection.

A Step Towards Canada’s Conservation Goals: Recognizing the importance of this watershed in Canada’s conservation efforts, the feasibility study will integrate traditional knowledge and scientific expertise to establish the basis for its potential protection. Fulfilling this vision requires combining ancestral wisdom with modern methodologies to safeguard and nurture the land, its inhabitants, and its economies.

As the Seal River Watershed Alliance embarks on this endeavor, it underscores their unwavering commitment to a future of prosperity and sustainability for all those who call it home.”



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