Earth day 2021 #restoreourearth
Author: Genevieve Huneault

Since time immemorial, Indigenous People cared and stewarded the lands and wildlife through holistic and balanced approaches. They cared for themselves, their families, and communities through the deep connections with environmental systems and through a traditional ecological knowledge that took into account seven future generations. These integrated systems between human, environment, and nature were uniquely different in methods and tradition but carried the same ethos from the temperate rainforests of the west coast of Canada to the fresh and rugged Atlantic waters of the east coast.

This year’s Earth day represents #restoreourearth, and while Indigenous People have kept a worldview of treading lightly and respectfully on this planet, there has been damage and an increasingly negative impact on our forests, oceans, wildlife, and earth due to colonialized systems and a disconnect from nature to society. Addressing the climate crisis — as well as preventing future pandemics — requires large-scale restoration efforts. 2021 can be the year in which we reach a breakthrough to fabricating a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable world.

Indigenous tourism presents an interesting intersection between restoring Indigenous culture and values, sharing culture and land with visitors, and emphasizing environmental and social sustainability. This year for #earthday2021 we are highlighting Indigenous tourism businesses who are leading the way in environmental conservation, awareness, and preservation – these are our sisters and brothers for ethical tourism:

Point Grondine Park, ON

Point Grondine Park

Hike, canoe or sea kayak along the traditional routes of the Anishnaabek People and be ready to be captivated by this historic and majestic place. Grondine has over 18,000 acres of scenic natural wilderness landscape, old growth pine forest, stunning river vistas and six interior lakes to explore. Since 2007, the Wikwemikong Department of Lands and Resources has managed and facilitated the park of Point Grondine with the vision of halting any future exploitation from the forestry and other natural resources extraction economies.

Spirit Bear Lodge, BC

Spirit bear lodge

Founded in 2001, Spirit Bear Lodge attracts visitors from around the world looking to explore the Great Bear Rainforest in search of wildlife, culture, and untouched ecosystems. Spirit Bear Lodge believes in responsible tourism. This means that they do everything possible to minimize their impact on the places they visit for the animals that call this home. Spirit Bear Lodge supports local conservation organizations and efforts to protect the Great Bear Rainforest.

Spirit Bear Lodge has identified 9 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to which they work towards contributing to. One is SDG 13: Climate Action, and their collaborative project called the ‘Great Bear Carbon Credits’.

With 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest protected, the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project is one of the largest carbon credit programs in Canada. The Great Bear Carbon Credit Corporation has more than one million tonnes of carbon credits to sell every year. That represents more than $40 million in sales over the past decade, with 65 percent of net revenues going back to communities for conservation and 35 percent for human well-being and other projects.

Further, in 2020 Spirit Bear Lodge, along with nine other wilderness tourism operators, were part of a marine debris clean up. For almost 30 days straight Spirit Bear Lodge staff walked the rugged coastline of the Kitasoo Xaixais territory picking up garbage, cutting and removing ropes and old fishing nets. Collectively they removed a total of 127 metric tons of marine debris.

Nunavik Parks, QC

Nunavik Parks’s mission is to protect and enhance representative landscapes and exceptional attractions that illustrate the region’s rich natural and human heritage. Great attention is paid to the development and enhancement of parks in a sustainable manner. The conservation objective is pursued by integrating traditional and scientific knowledge into educational and recreational activities so that regional, national, and international visitors can benefit.

The Nunavimmiuts care about the region’s national parks system. In their role as custodians and ambassadors, Inuit park employees cherish these unique places, living expressions of their heritage, a legacy to share and protect for future generations. Working groups are established where knowledge-learning work is undertaken by the nation to characterize the occupation of the territory and the physical, biological, and socio-economic environments of the sector. This includes a review of literature on history, climate as well as work in geology, geomorphology, archaeology and wildlife and floristic inventories. The fieldwork is carried out with the participation of community members. The results of all these studies, as well as the regional context for access, services, and economic development, are then presented in a report called State of Knowledge.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, BC

Massive moss-draped cedar and Sitka spruce tower above the Haida People’s ancient carved poles and fallen longhouses on the lush rainforest islands of Gwaii Haanas. Experience a rich, remote landscape steeped in spirituality, protected by Parks Canada and the Haida who draw cultural inspiration from this land of their ancestors.

Just as the forests of Gwaii Haanas are important places for many species and the people of Haida Gwaii, so are the underwater kelp forests.

A huge benefit to the coastal communities and ecosystems, kelp forests act as nurseries, habitat and abundant feeding grounds for species of fish and seafood that people eat. However, Kelp forests have declined in quantity and quality, which in turn created what are called urchin barrens. Urchin barrens are long expanses of ocean floor with many, many urchin and very little or no kelp. In summer 2017, the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Pacific Urchin Harvesters Association, Florida State University, and University of British Columbia collaborated to study and plan for restoration of a small section of kelp forest in Gwaii Haanas.

In 2018, a three-year project commenced using traditional knowledge and scientific information. A team of Haida, federal government, industry and academic partners started to transform urchin barrens to kelp forests, improving habitat for abalone and rockfish as they implement Gwaii Haanas’ newest ecosystem restoration project: Chiixuu Tll iinasdll: Nurturing Seafood to Grow. The project team helps kelp forests by removing at least 75% of the sea urchins along three kilometres of the Gaysiigas Gwaay (Murchison Island) coastline.

If you are interested to learn more on how you can advocate for environmental sustainability, or how to take action on climate change please follow #restoreourearth #indigenousclimateaction #tourism4sdgs #earthday2021 #cop26

Previous Post