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North Shore First Nation receiving caribou stewardship funding

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg is getting nearly $1 million from the province to help establish a self-sustaining caribou population.

MARATHON — A north shore First Nation is getting funding as part of a provincial program for caribou conservation.

The province is committing nearly $1 million to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg through its caribou conservation stewardship program to help preserve and protect the caribou population along the northeastern shore of Lake Superior.

Andrea Khanjin, Ontario's minister of environment, conservation and parks, travelled to Northwestern Ontario and made the announcement Monday morning at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Khanjin noted that the investment will help study predatory animals of the caribou. 

"It's not just about the wolves; there's also bears we have to be concerned about, but we need to monitor these populations," she said.

She also spoke about other factors that will also be monitored and studied. 

"Ice, for example, too, whenever we know in terms of climate change as if ice is gonna thaw or freeze over, that impacts the movement of predators; wolves for example, as we've heard in that in the past, but also other predators as well," Khanjin said.

The province said the funding will allow the community to work with wildlife and environmental experts, the federal government, First Nations and private sector partners to establish a self-sustaining caribou population.

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Chief Duncan Michano is happy to work with the province that is funding the work. 

"You need to buy resources, you need to travel, so you need money to do these things and this allows us to put a plan in place and work together with [the ministry]; [to] work together with other big communities to try to make sure that the caribou don't disappear," Michano said.

"The awareness is really important because there's people around who have no idea that caribou even existed in our landscape. Our people need to understand the importance. The people of Canada and Ontario need to understand the importance of making sure that caribou don't disappear."

In March, the province announced the five-year conservation agreement with Ottawa to assist in establishing collaborative commitments, including habitat planning, protection and restoration activities from the federal and provincial governments to protect and recover boreal caribou.

Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Originally from central Ontario, Katie moved here to further her career in the media industry.
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