Protected Areas and Climate Action in Ontario: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue

When we talk about nature-based solutions in the modern context, we’re really talking about new ways of doing old things. Indigenous knowledge systems tell us that we must put nature first. If we look after nature, the economy will take care of itself. … We must repair our relationship with the land first and focus on our shared responsibilities to ensure our collective well-being.– Curtis Scurr, Assembly of First Nations

In October 2019, over 100 leaders and knowledge holders from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and organizations gathered in Kingston Ontario to share insights and strategies about addressing the interrelated crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Hosted by Ontario Nature, Plenty Canada, the Indigenous Environmental Institute at Trent University, Walpole Island Land Trust and Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network, the three-day event provided a forum for cross-cultural dialogue and learning.

It is important for the dialogue to be not only cross-cultural but also cross-generational. … Build relationships with Indigenous peoples. Take that time and cultivate and maintain those relationships.– Shaelyn Wabegijig, Timiskaming First Nation

The purpose of the gathering was to support collaboration and enhance collective understanding about the critical role protected areas play in conserving biodiversity and increasing community and ecosystem resilience in an era of climate change.

It’s all about partnerships. We all have things to offer. It’s our responsibility—we can’t be afraid to go out and tell people what is wrong and stand up.– Chris Craig, South Nation Conservation

On behalf of the partner organizations, we are pleased to announce that the summary report and video of the Kingston gathering are now available.

View full report here.

We invite you to take a closer look and consider the words of the Elders, Knowledge Keepers, scientists, youth and other experts who contributed their wisdom and advice on the challenges we face and opportunities to move forward together along a more equitable, sustainable and hopeful path.

The young and the Elders need to be heard within our Nations. – Elder Marilyn Capreol

A key takeaway from the gathering was the importance, even in this time of urgency, of taking the time to build relationships, show appreciation for nature and find mutually beneficial solutions to pressing environmental problems.

We need to get moving but also slow down to allow the time for the conversations that can’t happen when we operate in the cappuccino express. – Elder Larry McDermott

The partners gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support of the RBC Foundation, the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of Canada and the Metcalf Foundation.