Indigenous-led conservation

Content related to: Indigenous-led conservation

Protecting the ‘Caribou Heaven’ A Sacred Site of the Naskapi and Protected Area Establishment in Nunavik, Canada

Sacred Natural Sites play an essential role in the expression and transmission of culture, in the conservation of biodiversity, and are a vital means for the manifestation of cultural and spiritual values related to nature. In Nunavik, the Government of Québec, in partnership with the Kativik Regional Government recently created the Kuururjuaq National Park on 4,274 km2 of tundra. A cultural important site for the Naskapi First Nation, the Caribou Heaven is situated within the limits of this new protected area. This chapter first provides an overview of the linkages between Aboriginal peoples and protected areas in Canada. It then illustrates the crucial role played by the caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in the socio-cultural, spiritual, and economic life of the Naskapi First Nation. Next, it explains how the ecological knowledge of the Naskapi was used to designate this culturally important place as an area of maximum protection, in order to ensure its protection and integrity. It finally describes how cultural and spiritual values, have formed the basis of co-management models of nature conservation in this park. The initiative is among the first of such efforts by the Government of Québec to give expression to the importance of and to provide protection to the sacred sites of First Nations.