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Two Alberta First Nations sign conservation agreement with Ottawa to protect boreal caribou


Two First Nations in northeastern Alberta signed a new conservation agreement with Ottawa to help protect and restore the population of boreal caribou.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation signed the agreement on Wednesday, hailing it as an important step toward protecting a vital species for Canadian ecosystems and Indigenous culture.

"The caribou are an integral part of our Indigenous culture and Treaty Rights, and of significance in our Dene history and traditions," said Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation chief, in a statement.

"Ensuring a sustainable future for boreal caribou honours both our past, present and future relationship with the caribou," Adam added.

Boreal caribou live in most provinces and territories in Canada, except for Nunavut and some Maritime provinces.

According to Environment Climate Change Canada, boreal caribou have been considered a threatened species since 2003 due to increased predation linked to human-caused habitat disturbances and natural disasters.

"Indigenous Peoples have protected nature since time immemorial, and our government is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation," said Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change, in a statement.

"This boreal caribou conservation agreement will help protect this iconic species from the ongoing loss of nature and biodiversity," the minister added. "Through partnerships like these, we are supporting community-based stewardship with tangible actions on the ground, while advancing reconciliation."

The agreement includes federal support and mechanisms for developing an Indigenous stewardship plan for the caribou living in the Red Earth Range, West Side Athabasca River Range, Richardson Range, and East Side Athabasca River Range.

In addition, the agreement will include adaptive management, principles of transparency and capacity-building to ensure collaboration between federal and Indigenous partners.

"Protecting caribou and honouring our Treaty Rights go hand in hand," said Peter Powder, Mikisew Cree First Nation chief, in a statement.

"This agreement creates new ways for us to work in partnership with Canada that we hope will finally lead to a secure future for boreal caribou and their habitat for future generations," Powder said. Top Stories

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