Weekly Update from Chief Cheechoo
March 5, 2022
Moose Cree has been working on land use planning for the Homeland for many years. Our People have made clear that we must protect our lands, waters, and animals to ensure a good future for generations to come.
We have made good progress in the last year toward developing a plan to protect our Homeland and ensure our jurisdiction and rights are respected. Our plan will be based on the principle of looking after the land, or Nikanawelihtenan Askiy. This will be a Moose Cree plan, led by Moose Cree, and built on our values, interests, and priorities.
The plan, once completed, will cover over 6 million hectares of Moose Cree Homeland and have as one of its key objectives the protection of the North French River watershed.
The Membership have made it clear over many years and in many meetings—the North French is a critical part of our Homeland and protecting it is a key priority.
In 2015, the Membership passed a motion directing Chief and Council to declare that the North French River watershed be protected.
Also in 2015, Chief & Council signed a Band Council Resolution removing the North French River watershed from industrial activities and reaffirming Moose Cree’s intentions to take all necessary steps to protect the area. A letter was sent to former Premier Wynne communicating Moose Cree’s position with respect to the watershed.
In February 2021, Moose Cree received funding from the federal government to develop an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area for the watershed. With this funding, Moose Cree is working on a public campaign to bring awareness and support for permanently protecting the North French River watershed.
Attached is a statement that I released in September 2021 in which I reaffirmed our commitment to protecting North French River watershed and having it permanently designated as a protected area.
We have partnered with Wildlands League, one of the largest non-profit organizations in Canada that work to preserve natural areas. They have been of great assistance to us, and I encourage to visit their website at wildlandsleague.org.
There in now a growing public and government awareness that protecting areas like the North French is an important tool in fighting climate change by keeping carbon in the ground and trees and out of the atmosphere. The Moose Cree Homeland and the North French River watershed lie in the heart of Canada’s Boreal Forest—the Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon storehouse. Protecting the North French River watershed is important not only for Moose Cree, but also for Ontario, Canada, and the world. Protecting the North French also presents new sustainable economic opportunities for Moose Cree to consider, including the sale of carbon credits created by protecting the area from industrial activity that would otherwise result in the release of carbon stored in the ground and in the trees to the atmosphere.
In February 2022, I met with Ontario’s Minister of the Environment to discuss how Moose Cree and Ontario can work together to protect the North French River watershed. We both made a commitment to make this important work a priority and stay personally involved. Technical teams for Ontario and Moose Cree will begin meeting soon to discuss interests, priorities, and concrete tools for the protection of the North French.
In addition to our work on the North French, Moose Cree teams have been working hard to make sure that other governments, in particular Ontario and Canada, recognize and respect our Moose Cree land use plans throughout the Homeland. We have been making good progress, using existing and new tools to have our plan for the Homeland recognized and respected, including:
As we advance our discussions with Canada and Ontario on developing the Moose Cree land use plan, we will be coming back to Membership often for guidance and direction. We have hired a Communications Coordinator who is working on strategy to ensure that Moose Cree community members play a key role in Moose Cree land use planning.
Details on upcoming information sessions for Membership will be posted on the MCFN Facebook page and website.
Moose Cree First Nation – Land Use Planning Team:
John Turner, Land Use Plan Coordinator
Stan Loone, Communications Coordinator