We are facing an unprecedented biodiversity crisis, with more than one million species facing extinction globally, including 640 species at risk in Canada. This rapid decline of biodiversity has critical implications for humanity, potentially leading to the collapse of food, economic, and health systems. Canada is committed to working to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 and to achieve a full recovery for nature by 2050. Supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation is essential to achieving these targets.
Today, as part of National Indigenous History Month, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced more than $3.7 million in funding over the next three years through the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk to support 33 conservation projects across Canada. These projects will be led by Indigenous nations and organizations, reflecting their unique values, interests, and knowledge in taking action to recover species at risk.
The Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk plays an important role in the conservation of land-based species at risk across Indigenous territories. It supports long-standing Indigenous leadership in stewarding lands, waters, animals, and plants, as well as supporting the implementation of the Species at Risk Act. For example, last year the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society received over $99,000 to support recovery actions for Southern Mountain Caribou in Treaty 8 Territory, specifically the Klinse-Za caribou herd.
Located in Northern British Columbia, the Klinse-Za caribou herd suffered a significant historical population decline, and continues to be threatened by unsustainable levels of mortality to calves. This project improved the capacity of the maternal pen program, protecting caribou from predators during the high-risk calving period. The project also enabled guardian pen patrols and caribou habitat to be restored. In addition, it supported the transfer of Indigenous knowledge to local youth, providing employment and educational opportunities to recent high school graduates of West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations. The project strengthened the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society’s capacity to pursue caribou recovery actions throughout Treaty 8 Territory, and directly contributed to the First Nations’ spiritual and cultural sense of place.
By working in partnership, the Government of Canada, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples are making meaningful progress with recovering species at risk and protecting their habitats.