THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government has finalized an agreement with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation to help revive caribou in the North. This investment of nearly $1 million will support a multi-year initiative to recover the local boreal caribou population, as well as restore an important cultural, historical and ecological feature to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg.
“This agreement is a significant milestone in our province’s commitment to protect and recover boreal caribou, which we know is a long-term and continuous effort,” said Andrea Khanjin, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “I am proud to be working with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg to help recover a species that is integral not only to the health of Ontario’s boreal forests, but also to the well-being of a community.”
As part of this project, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg will work in collaboration with environmental and wildlife experts, the federal government, First Nations and private sector partners to establish a self-sustaining population of boreal caribou along the northeastern shores of Lake Superior.
This project is funded by the Caribou Conservation Stewardship Program, a $20-million program designed to support projects that maintain and recover caribou populations in the province. The program supports the work of non-profit organizations, Indigenous communities and other groups involved in caribou conservation activities such as on-the-ground habitat restoration and protection, monitoring, science and research.
This agreement with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation is the latest step in Ontario’s ongoing work to implement the Agreement for the Conservation of Caribou, Boreal Population in Ontario, a five-year conservation agreement with the Government of Canada which provides an overall framework for establishing collaborative commitments, including habitat management, protection and restoration activities from both the federal and provincial governments to protect and recover caribou.
- In March 2023, the province announced a total of $29 million over four years in funding towards caribou, representing the largest single investment dedicated to caribou in Ontario’s history.
- Biigtigong Nishnaabeg is an Anishnaabe community located in the Lake Superior Region.
- Caribou (boreal population) is a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) in Ontario. It is estimated there are roughly 5,000 boreal caribou in Ontario.
- In 2022, Ontario established the Boreal Caribou Conservation Agreement Working Group to support the government in understanding the biological, social, cultural, and economic factors involved in boreal caribou conservation. The group meets regularly and has representatives from conservation groups, the mining and forestry sectors and municipalities.
“I am pleased to see progress made on Ontario’s historic investment to recover boreal caribou in Northern Ontario and I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with local First Nation communities, including Biigtigong Nishnaabeg. This program will ensure that our eco-systems remain viable for future generations.”
– Kevin Holland
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan
“Municipalities and Indigenous communities look forward to continuing our collaborative work with the province and Minister Andrea Khanjin. Seeing meaningful progress towards consultation and implementation of the Boreal Caribou Conservation Agreement is essential, and Ontario is ensuring local community voices are being heard. This approach is critical to the recovery of boreal caribou while ensuring that our communities, and the resource industries our people depend on for their livelihoods, thrive.”
– Wendy Landry
Mayor Of Municipality of Shuniah, President of NOMA (Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association), Co-chair of the Boreal Caribou Committee
“Over time, the caribou have all but vanished from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg’s territory and so too has the vital role that caribou played in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg’s culture and community. Through this project and through Biigtigong’s Caribou Stewardship Plan, we will work to protect and steward a secure and self-sustaining Boreal caribou population along the north shore of Lake Superior.”
– Duncan Michano
Chief of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg
SOURCE Province of Ontario