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Reality Check

RC-11: Does Manitoba Enable Community Driven Lands Plans?

Date Posted: June 4, 2011

In Canada Aboriginal Peoples have 'pioneered' traditional lands planning methods over the last 40 years, based on the need to collect, and show a community's range of land uses by resource, over time, and locations. Many First Nations, Metis, Dene and Inuit communities have been involved in refining the methods, and kinds of data and maps used to present their own lands uses and practices. Today's geographical information systems and computer mapping tools create dramatic improvements in quality, time use and ability to show resource use.

Most recently these methods are showcased in Terry Tobias' book Living Proof. The Union of B.C. Chiefs sponsored the work, and publication of Living Proof. The book is based on up to 400 interviews with practitioners across North America who shared their knowledge, methods and successes with Tobias.

National environmental organizations, like WWF Canada and CPAWS, consistently support First Nation lands planning in advance of industrial activities and as a basis for establishment of new parks and protected areas.

Here in Manitoba our government started a process in 2002 intended to support east side Manitoba First Nations in this huge boreal forest region to create their lands plans. There is an MOU and an Accord from 2007 between the communities and the Manitoba government in support of community driven lands plans for each community's traditional area.

To date only one lands plan has been posted for public review. The review process closed March 23, 2011, but the outcome of review is not yet. Other lands plans from communities involved in the World Heritage Site nomination, are forthcoming.

Small grants in the range of $ 30,000 have been made available to east side communities involved in work for their lands plans.

First Nation communities elsewhere in Manitoba are not eligible for these grants - and no planning program is in place.

Manitoba needs to review its approach to the east side community lands plans program, research the many examples in Canada of successful First Nation lands planning initiatives, and evaluate what has occurred between 2002 and 2011.

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