Six southwestern Ontario First Nations to see provincial cash for Thames stewardship projects

The Thames River looking upstream toward downtown London, Ont. Michael Rochford / 500px via Getty Images

Several London, Ont.-area First Nations communities will be receiving provincial funding as part of an announcement aimed at protecting and restoring the Great Lakes, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks unveiled on Thursday.

Nearly $1 million has been earmarked for 11 Ontario First Nations and Métis Nation communities as part of the announcement, with roughly $150,000 going to six southwestern Ontario First Nations to support youth leadership and stewardship of the Thames River, the province said.

The local First Nations communities include Chippewas of the Thames, Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point, Caldwell, Munsee-Delaware Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Walpole Island.

In an email, Brandon Doxtator, councillor for Oneida Nation and the community’s environmental consultation coordinator, said the First Nation would use the $25,000 it receives to support its Thirteen Moons Land Based Learning Camp, a weekly four-day camp for Oneida youth.

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During the camp, participants learn hunting, fishing, and harvesting, “all tied with our language and cultural practices,” Doxtator said.

“The youth will be trained to work on the land and be future stewards, learning how to identify and monitor environmental contamination and many other activities.”

Elsewhere in the province, at least $66,500 has been earmarked for projects in the Lake Superior Basin that will “provide important information for assessing fish consumption concerns in Areas of Concern in Lake Superior,” the province said.

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation, Fort William First Nation, Pays Plat First Nation, Red Rock Indian Band, and Red Sky Métis Independent Nation will receive funding from that pool.

Thursday’s announcement also includes $780,400 for Anishinabek Nation, Chiefs of Ontario, and Métis Nation of Ontario, according to the province.

The funding, they said, will enable First Nations and Métis communities to “take a more active and collaborative role in the design, development, and implementation of Great Lakes protection and restoration efforts.”

In a statement, David Piccini, minister of the environment, conservation and parks, said the province was “proud to support Indigenous-led projects” that engage First Nations youth to protect the Thames, and make eating fish along the north shores of Lake Superior safer for area Indigenous communities.

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“Working together, we will continue to protect, conserve and restore the health of the Great Lakes and support the well-being of communities that rely on them now and for generations to come,” he said.

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