Watching, Listening, and Learning to Understand Change: Developing a Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) Initiative in Ontario’s Far North

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Geb Raygorodetsky
Cheryl Chetkiewicz
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Ontario’s Far North is one of the world’s largest and most intact expanses of boreal forest and wetlands. The region has almost no industrial development today, but that could change with plans for mining operations, all-season roads, transmission lines, commercial forestry and hydroelectric facilities being put forward. Climate change could also rapidly reshape the region.

Ontario’s Far North is the traditional territory and homeland of Cree and Ojibway Indigenous peoples, who have occupied the region for millennia. They rely on the land, freshwaters and air as they pursue economic development opportunities as well as hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering food and medicines for nutritional and spiritual sustenance. First Nations’ rights to maintaining their lifestyle, traditions and cultures on their ancestral homelands are constitutionally recognized and protected in Canada under Section 35 of the Canada Constitution Act, 1982.

The direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of provincial and federal governments’ resource management and development decisions on communities and their traditional territories, must be monitored to ensure that both Aboriginal and treaty rights are upheld, and that the socio-ecological resilience of Ontario’s Far North is sustained for future generations.