The Mushkegowuk Council has been pushing to protect the area in northern Ontario — a major carbon sink the size of Portugal — for decades
By Inori Roy
The carbon-rich landscape of the James Bay Lowlands in Northern Ontario is at risk of development, but an opportunity for protection lies in expanding the proposed Mushkegowuk marine conservation area. Photo: Garth Lenz
This story is part of Carbon Cache, The Narwhal’s ongoing series about nature-based climate solutions.
Lawrence Martin can’t put a date on when he first heard community Elders call for conservation efforts in James Bay and Hudson Bay — but the interest goes as far back as he can remember.
Martin is the marine region manager for a new conservation project spearheaded by the Mushkegowuk Council, which represents seven First Nations in the Hudson Bay Lowlands in northern Ontario. He says Elders have been encouraging an initiative like this for decades.
“They wanted to conserve the millions and millions of migratory birds that come up here. They see the seals, the belugas, the walruses, the polar bears roaming around. And as climate change happens, you see a lot of these animals coming inland.”
Northern Ontario’s James Bay and Hudson Bay — known in western Cree as Weeneebeg and Washaybeyoh — are 800-plus kilometres north of Toronto at their most southerly point, and unconnected to the rest of the province by road. The coastline and adjacent wetlands have long been understood as a globally significant site of migration and breeding for hundreds of bird species, and dozens of species at risk. The Mushkegowuk Council has resolutions on record from as early as the 1980s, calling for the creation of a Tribal Conservation Authority to manage this critical ecosystem.
In the last two years, it seems, the stars have aligned.
Read the full article at The Narwhal.