Protecting Lands and Waters: A Toolkit

Advancing Indigenous Rights through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)

With thanks to the funding provided by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Canadian Environmental Law Association with contributions by the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (ANA or Grassy Narrows First Nation) Land Protection Team, has created this toolkit which aims to shed light on IPCAs as an emerging legal mechanism for protecting lands and water.

As this toolkit explores, the legislative means for establishing protected areas assumes traditional models of conservation, which are Crown-led and Crown-governed. This is exemplified in the 55 different pieces of legislation across Canada that provide for the establishment of protected areas, but none formally recognize nor set out the legal mechanism to establish an IPCA. This legislative lacuna has served as a bar to establishing IPCAs, as evident in Ontario, where none of the 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves are recognized as IPCAs.
 

We invite you to watch our toolkit launch event that happened on June 20, 2022. We were joined by Indigenous knowledge holder, land protector and Elder Joseph Fobister who shared the actions Grassy Narrows First Nation has taken in declaring an Indigenous Sovereignty and Protected Area within their territory.


Toolkits and Resources

Full Report

With thanks to the funding provided by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Canadian Environmental Law Association with contributions by the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (ANA) Land Protection Team, has created this toolkit which aims to shed light on IPCAs as an emerging legal mechanism for protecting lands and water.

Executive Summary

As Indigenous-led conservation and IPCAs gain traction, both in Canada and around the world, this first of its kind toolkit strives to support the recognition of Indigenous-led conservation efforts; respond to barriers in establishing IPCAs; and model the legal and policy basis needed to advance Indigenous-led governance in the establishment and management of protected areas.

Introduction & Part 1

In the Introductory chapter, readers will find resources to learn more about the fundamentals of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) including their legal authority; the connections they share with other contemporary discussions about Land Back and biodiversity protection; and the current state of protected lands in Ontario.

In Part 1 of the toolkit, we set out some ideas for community involvement and engagement in the development of an IPCA, its vision and planning.

Part 2

Part 2 of the toolkit explores the interim measures communities may pursue in order to protect the health of their lands and community, in response to external threats such as a resource extraction projects. These suggestions are not exhaustive and vary in degree of complexity. However, they are intended as options to consider when seeking to alleviate impacts to lands, air and water pending more permanent forms of protection.

Part 3

Part 3 of the toolkit reviews the range of legal methods for establishing an IPCA, including those which are based on the inherent jurisdiction and laws of Indigenous communities as well as those jointly established between Indigenous and Crown bodies. We also highlight examples where IPCAs have been established with provincial governments, in an effort to provide a path forward in the Ontario.

Accompanying Resources

The toolkit contains four  accompanying resources:

1. A briefing note for potential use by First Nations in the context of discussions about the need for Indigenous-led conservation.
2. A summary of statements made by the provincial government regarding IPCAs (current to Spring 2022)
3. A summary of statements made by the federal government, regarding IPCAs (current to Spring 2022)
4. Annotated Bibliography and Online Resources (current to Spring 2022)

Related Resources

Indigenous Conversation Strategies & Practices
CELA Presentation on IPCAs