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Research and projects

Establishing and co-managing a network of new protected areas based on areas of importance to the Crees of Eeyou Istchee

In 2019, the CNG generously received funds from the federal and provincial governments, and several private foundations to support “establishing and co-managing a network of new protected areas based on areas of importance to the Crees of Eeyou Istchee”. CNG is working with all Cree communities and entities to carry out projects and programs to achieve this overall vision. This collaborative project, which is funded until March 2024, is also assisting in the development of the Eeyou Istchee Land Keepers Program and long-term management planning for protected areas. The Land Keepers program is aimed at providing Cree people with opportunities for sustainable, on-the-land jobs taking care of the territory, including protected areas. Land Keepers support tallyman, wildlife protection officers and assistants, in the monitoring, protection and management of land and wildlife while fulfilling their cultural responsibilities.

The new protected area network in Eeyou Istchee, established at the end of 2020, is designed to be hydrologically connected and will increase connectivity between existing protected areas as well as protect habitats for species at risk and culturally significant species including Woodland Caribou. Emphasis is now being placed on fieldwork and research to collect baseline information about cultural and environmental values in protected areas.

The CNG Protected Areas team focused on developing regional, sub-regional and local projects with communities and Cree entities on centered on three streams: Cree culture, water, and wildlife.

Breeding Bird Survey

Whapmagoostui First Nation

Automatic recording units deployed for breeding bird surveys in Nibiischii Park (Mistissini)

Traditional Youth Snowshoe Journey

Whapmagoostui First Nation

CNG, Cree Nation Youth Council (CNYC), and Whapmagoostui First Nation hosted an 8-day traditional youth snowshoe journey from the community of Whapmagoostui into the Burton Lake-Roggan River and Point-Louis-XIV protected area from March 26-April 3, 2021. Cree youth (13-35 years) learned first-hand about protected areas and traditional knowledge and skills about traveling on the land from Cree Elders and guides. Prior to departure, 5 youth and community members from Whapmagoostui participated in a 2-day Ice Safety and Rescue Course, which had the added benefit of providing future employment skills for field studies.

American Marten Monitoring Program

Cree First Nation of Waswanipi

Cree First Nation of Waswanipi (CFNW) is continuing to monitor American marten (Wapistan in Cree) populations using nest boxes, photographic bait stations, and Cree knowledge at 64 sites (inside and outside protected areas with low, moderate, and high disturbance levels). The project team consists of two Waswanipi Land Keepers, a Coordinator, a liaison officer, and tallymen. In FY2020-21, research equipment (tablets, data collection software, weather stations, spy cameras) was purchased, and a Working Group made up of staff from CFNW, CNG, and academic experts was established.

Cultural Information Collecting Project

Cree Nation of Chisasibi

Cree Nation of Chisasibi’s project to collect key cultural information for the new protected Areas, including interviewing and documenting Cree place names and rich narratives through storytelling with Elders and land-users, was also supported. A local database of significant cultural heritage areas and information will be created, and intangible heritage (stories, legends, songs, spiritual and healing ceremonies, birth/burial sites, personal and collective memories) will be documented. The project will also provide guidance and recommendations for Cultural Resource Management (CRM) within the protected areas network.

Water Quality Monitoring Project

Cree Nation of Nemaska

Collaborating with the Cree Nation of Nemaska (CNN) to undertake a water quality monitoring project for Dana and Evans Lakes (within the Chisesaakahikan and Broadback River Biodiversity Reserve). Protecting water quality and quantity is an important reason for the creation of protected areas in Eeyou Istchee, and tallymen have raised concerns that forestry activity and changes to wetland drainage patterns occurring upstream is potentially degrading water quality through increased sedimentation in these lakes. CNG and CNN are also working with Water First NGO to design a sampling plan and develop a training regime for Cree members of CNN to conduct fieldwork beginning in the Summer of 2021, depending on weather conditions and COVID-19 protocols.