SAULT STE MARIE – ENVIRONMENT – Over seventy First Nations youth and elders are gathered in Sault Ste. Marie this week to attend the Chiefs of Ontario’s ‘Following in the footsteps of our Ancestors Elders and Youth Water Gathering.’ Participants are discussing the role of First Nations traditional ecological knowledge in protecting the Great Lakes.
“We must continue to create opportunities for our young people to exercise leadership over First Nations’ lands and waters,” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “The knowledge held by First Nations Elders is key to the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.”
The workshop offers First Nation youth the opportunity to connect with Elders and share knowledge and build capacity as leaders. Participants are provided with an overview of the Great Lakes initiatives, including recently announced priorities of Ontario and Canada to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.
“Canada and Ontario have both committed to enhancing the role of First Nations’ traditional knowledge in environmental decision making, so we must be ready to assert First Nations environmental priorities,” said Regional Chief Beardy.
On December 14, 2014, Canada and Ontario announced the renewal of the Canada Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. Under the agreement, Ontario and Canada will support First Nations projects related to traditional ecological knowledge and the Great Lakes basin.
The Government of Ontario has also committed to including First Nations in decision making under the recently introduced Great Lakes Protection Act.
This workshop builds on a previous gathering of First Nations youth and Elders held in Six Nations of the Grand River in March 2014. During the previous workshop, First Nations discussed their priorities around Great Lakes protection with representatives from the Province of Ontario.
Following in the footsteps of our Ancestors “Elders and Youth Water Gathering was made possible by support from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).