SIDNEY, B.C.- Indigenous leaders from British Columbia, Manitoba and Nunavut told federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna that reconciliation involves recognizing and supporting the deep connections their people have to the land.
The leaders took part in the ceremony in Sidney, B.C., where the federal government announced $5.7 million in funding for the Indigenous Guardians pilot program in support of environmental conservation efforts.
McKenna says the program recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ rights and responsibilities to the land and waters of their traditional territories.
She says the financial support allows First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities to work to protect sensitive areas and species and monitor ecological health and maintain cultural sites.
Chief David Walkem of the Cook’s Ferry Indian Band in B.C.’s Interior says part of the project will involve his nation reconnecting with the land after decades of industrial influence dating back to the Cariboo and Fraser River gold rushes.
McKenna says Indigenous people understand the importance of acting now to protect Canada’s environment and preserve biodiversity and this program ensures they have the support to be the best possible stewards of their lands, water and ice.