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Goals, Objectives and Initiatives

Goals

  • Assist in the development of a policy and procedure for consultation with First Nations and other Aboriginal communities.
  • Develop education initiatives for implementation in the Aboriginal community and Manitoba Conservation and other stakeholders
  • Lead or coordinate initiatives to manage natural resources in cooperation with Aboriginal communities.
  • Monitor and coordinate departmental settlements arising out of hydro-electric settlement agreements and treaty land entitlement.
  • Develop and participate on inter-departmental and intra-departmental working groups to integrate the interests of the Aboriginal community in the development of legislation, policies and programs.
  • Evaluate new and existing resource programs, projects and policies and where required, integrate the legal, cultural, social and economic requirements of the Aboriginal community.
  • Research other jurisdictions' programs, policies, and legislation and evaluate the potential for integrating their innovative mechanisms within Manitoba Conservation.
  • Develop, with Aboriginal people, a strategy for the development of agreements between Aboriginal people and Manitoba Conservation.
  • As recommended in the Consultation on Sustainable Development Implementation (COSDI) Report, participate on departmental processes to ensure Aboriginal peoples' participation and role in managing natural resources.

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Objectives

  • To develop and maintain formal and informal processes of communication, facilitate dialogue, and serve as a bridge between Manitoba Conservation, the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community.
  • To improve understanding and mutual respect for the values and requirements of Aboriginal communities through implementation of education initiatives, including cultural awareness, and other programs.
  • To participate in the negotiations for development of formal initiatives like co-management and memorandums of understanding between Manitoba Conservation and the Aboriginal community.
  • To review proposals, and where required, ensure that the interests and requirements of the Aboriginal community are considered in the approval processes.
  • To participate in the development of legislation, regulations, policies and program management plans (actions) involving Aboriginal communities, so they can directly present their interests and requirements for integration with those actions.
  • To participate in the review of existing legislation, policy and programs and recommend amendments as required in accordance with the Treaties, Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, and Constitution of Canada and Court decisions.
  • To participate in the development of policy and procedures for meaningful Consultation with First Nations and other Aboriginal  communities when departmental actions, such as legislation, policies and programs, may infringe upon constitutionally protected Treaty and Aboriginal rights.
  • To develop in partnership with the Aboriginal community, strategies to effectively involve Aboriginal people in natural resource management processes.
  • To seek alternative sources of funding to support initiatives between Manitoba Conservation, the Aboriginal community and other stakeholders.

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Current Initiatives

Crown Consultation

The Aboriginal Relations Branch advocates that appropriate and meaningful Crown Consultation are undertaken with First Nation and Aboriginal communities when any government decision may infringe upon or adversely affect the exercise of a Treaty or Aboriginal right.

Manitoba Conservation recognizes that it has a legal duty to consult in a meaningful way with First Nation and Aboriginal communities. To date, Manitoba Conservation has participated and initiated Crown Consultation processes with First Nation and other Aboriginal communities regarding hydro transmission lines, forestry management plans and licences, and other day-to-day activities undertaken by the Department. The result of the consultations assists Manitoba Conservation in the decisions process.

In 2006, Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs (http://www.gov.mb.ca/ana/) has initiated the establishment a Working Group to assist the Government of Manitoba in meeting its legal and constitutional responsibilities to consult with First Nations and other Aboriginal communities. Manitoba Conservation was requested to participate with this initiative.

Co Management

Co-management is a tool that helps address resource management issues and opportunities between government and users by negotiating shared roles and responsibilities, such as involvement in decision-making and monitoring. The parties recognize the value of cooperation rather than confrontation and, through these initiatives, have developed strong working relationships stemming from achievement, insight and trust.

In 2003, Manitoba Conservation initiated and signed Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) with the West Region Tribal Council; Opaskwayak Cree Nation; and the Manitoba Metis Federation. The intent of these MOU’s is to guide and lay the foundation for potential co-management arrangements.

In addition, in 2006 Manitoba Conservation initiated the development and establishment of regional Resource Management Boards within specific geographic areas of the Wabanong Nakwaygum Okimawin (WNO) planning area.

As a result of the MOU’s signed back in 2003, in February 2007 the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and the Government of Manitoba signed an Agreement for Joint Management of Natural Resources. Opaskwayak Cree Nation and Manitoba Conservation have set out an area of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation’s traditional territory that will be the focus of new consultations to improve the management of natural resources. Each party will retain authority over its respective lands. The Agreement will focus on consultation, communication, exchange of information and common resource issues.

Distribution of Eagles, Eagles feathers and parts
From 2004 to 2005 a group of Elders, Medicine People, Traditional Healers and Traditional Teachers were invited to engage in a discussion regarding proposed amendments to the Disposition of Dead Wild Animals Policy and Procedure Directives. This group provided advice to departmental staff of the sacredness of the eagle to their culture. Further to this, the moral principle on how individuals receive eagles, eagle parts or eagle feathers within their cultures was shared and that the policy directive must respect these teachings. The result of listening to these respected individuals concluded with a policy directive that respects and honours the cultural use of this sacred bird.

Eagles, eagle feathers and eagle parts are made available to First Nations in Manitoba for traditional ceremonial purposes on a first come, first served basis. The waiting period for a full eagle is currently three years or more due to the high number of applicants on the waiting list and low eagle mortality. Other dead raptors such as hawks and owls that are found and turned in to the department or that are not required for scientific or educational purposes may also be used in this program. A person may apply for such a part or permit by submitting a request for wildlife for traditional use to the Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch in Winnipeg by fax at (204)945-3077 or by mail to Box 24, 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3.

Rights and Responsibilities of First Nation People
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
Operations Division, Sustainable Resource Management Branch, Aboriginal Relations Branch and Manitoba Justice developed a web-site describing the Rights and Responsibilities of First Nation People to fish, hunt, and trap in accordance with the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement.
Summaries of the information on the web-site are included in the Manitoba Anglers Guide, Manitoba Hunting Guide, and Manitoba Trapping Guide

Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin

Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin (WNO) was formerly known as the East Side Planning Initiative. Launched in 2000, the name of the initiative was changed in 2005 to better reflect First Nations people who represent more than 96 per cent of the population on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. The goal of WNO is to develop Traditional Area land use Plans that will lead to a broad-area plan for the east side of Lake Winnipeg. The plans will assist government and the First Nations in developing a wise and sustainable use of this vast region of Manitoba.  Most importantly, this initiative will ensure the direct involvement of First Nations in future initiatives and potential sustainable development.

In 2006, WNO established an incorporated body to carry out individual land-use plans. WNO Inc. would be responsible for considering and reviewing land-use planning funding applications. In addition, WNO Inc. will serve as a foundation and guide for governments of First Nations on the east side of Lake Winnipeg to be involved in land-use planning activities that will affect their communities and traditional territories.

For further information regarding WNO please follow the following link http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wno/

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Community Involvement

The Aboriginal Relations Branch (ARB) provides financial support to the following community events:

  • Assembly of Manitoba Chief’s Annual Youth Gathering
  • R.D. Parker Collegiate Aboriginal Youth Council’s Annual Youth Conference
  • Tribal Council Investment Group
  • Northern Association of Community Council
  • Vision Quest
  • Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards
  • Ka Ni Kanichihk: Keep the Fires Burning; Honouring our Grandmothers

In addition, the Aboriginal Relations Branch has set up the tradeshow booth and provides a variety of information regarding the Branch and other services within Manitoba Conservation. To date this has taken place at the following events:

Annual First Nation Treaty Gatherings and Celebrations
  • Aboriginal community events such as First Nations WinterFest and National Aboriginal Day
  • Manitoba Trappers Association Conference
  • High Schools (available upon request)
  • Conferences and conventions

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Future Initiatives

The Aboriginal Relations Branch will continue to:

  • Provide input from an Aboriginal perspective through review of existing and proposed actions (legislation, policy and programs);
  • Meet with the Aboriginal community to identify concerns and issues and develop plans of action for implementation to resolve issues;
  • Provide direction for Manitoba Conservation and the Aboriginal community in natural resource management programs;
  • Participate in the ongoing discussions and negotiations toward the development of formal agreements for the management of natural resources;
  • Provide educational information through various mediums to the Department, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal communities;
  • Attend meetings and gatherings within the Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal communities and users of natural resources; and
  • Respond to inquiries from within the department, resource users, general public and educational institutions.

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