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Mar 01 07

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Community People Call for High Level of Protection for the Peel Watershed

from the Peel River Watershed Working Group

Representatives from Tetlit Gwich\'in, Na-Cho N\'yak Dun, Tsiigehtchic communities and representatives from northern Renewable Resource Councils developed a sweeping vision for the Peel River Watershed at a Gathering held a week ago. People from around the Watershed came together in Mayo to reaffirm their role as stewards of the Peel Watershed and to chart its future.

Over 70 participants at the Gathering worked for three days to develop a common vision for the Peel Watershed. They envision an intact watershed where the water and air remain clean, the fish and wildlife remain healthy, and where traditional knowledge can be passed on to youth out on the land. “We heard a strong plea to protect the Peel River watershed as a source of our culture and identity and we want to make sure it stays the way it is now and for future generations,” says James Andre, Peel Gathering community organizer and co-chair.

The Elders of all four First Nations, who described the Gathering as a meeting of “brothers and sisters”, developed a common statement to provide direction for their people. In it, the Elders collectively state “We want our people to protect the Peel Watershed, which means the Watershed remains as it was created, with a high level of protection for the land and water and our heritage, and all living things, where we can continue to practice our traditional way of life and care for the land, water, air, wildlife, and medicinal plants.” They go on to say “We want our people to find a way to give a high level of protection to the Peel Watershed, in the way a park gives protection. With such protection in place, we still practice our rights to hunt, fish, trap and use the land.”

The Elders statement says “We are seeing great changes in the Earth, such as climate change, yet the Watershed is still a natural place.” They envision the Watershed as a place of learning for their youth to acquire traditional knowledge and skills.

The group reaffirmed the provisions of a 1990 Vancouver agreement among the Na-Cho N\'yak Dun, the Tetlit Gwich\'in, Tr\'ondek Hwech\'in, and Vuntut Gwitchin, which proclaimed the principle of “protecting the Peel Watershed in perpetuity from all damage to harvesting, wildlife, and fish habitat, and the quantity and quality of water flow.”

Youth from Mayo and Fort McPherson also met throughout the Gathering. The role of the Watershed for youth was an important focus of discussion for all participants. The youth talked about wanting economic opportunities for themselves, such as guiding and outfitting companies. The Elders statement emphasizes the critical importance of youth having these opportunities, and being able to “make a living from the land in its natural state.”

A community working group was established as a result of the Gathering. They are tasked with implementing the vision statement to protect the Peel Watershed and support a full and immediate moratorium on all claim staking and extraction of non-renewable resources until land use planning is complete. As part of a community driven leadership, selected representatives will be ensuring the work is done from the interests of their communities first and foremost before working with other non profits.

“We, as concerned peoples have come together to reaffirm our rights and concern for full protection of the Peel River Watershed that includes a moratorium on resource extraction,” says Elaine Alexie, Peel River Watershed Working Group member. She continues “a big cause for concern is the fact that we as peoples have not been adequately consulted for future planning of the Peel Watershed, and yet, governments such as that of the Yukon Territory are allowing resource exploration in various locations within the watershed. We have an inherent right to self determination and must be consulted on all levels that involve any and all appropriation, commercial use and intrusion onto our lands, waters, ecosystems and natural resources. We reserve the right to say no.”

Additional working group actions include working closely with an Elders Advisory Committee, developing a conservation strategy for the Three Rivers watersheds of the Wind, Snake, and Bonnet Plume Rivers, and ensuring community input to the ongoing Peel Watershed Planning Commission. A major interest for full protection for the Peel Watershed is the idea in the form of a ‘Tribal Park’, where a model under co-management relationship between the First Nations groups is to be operated and owned by the First Nation communities within the Peel River Watershed.

The community vision statement describes the Peel Watershed as the place where all the rivers flow from their headwaters in the mountains into the Peel River, including all the major tributaries: the Wind, Snake, Bonnet Plume, Ogilvie, Blackstone, and Hart Rivers.

The Peel River watershed is located in the central Yukon and covers over 67,500 square kilometres. It includes traditional lands of the Tetlit Gwich\'in, Trondek Hwech\'in, Na-cho N\'yak Dun and Vuntut Gwich\'in First Nations. Land use planning is currently underway for the watershed.

For more information, contact:

James Andre
Co-chair of Peel River Watershed Community Gathering and
Peel River Watershed Working Group Member

Frank Patterson
Co-Chair of Peel Watershed Community Gathering and
Peel River Watershed Working Group Member

Mar 01 07

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CPAWS-Yukon congratulates northern community elders and delegates on their vision of protection for

CPAWS-Yukon congratulates the elders and community delegates at the Peel Watershed Community Gathering held in Mayo, Yukon February 16-18, 2007. CPAWS respects and endorses the communities’ Vision and Statement that calls for protection of the Peel Watershed for present and future generations. We look forward to continuing to work with the communities to realize their vision, which is consistent with our own ongoing Three Rivers campaign.

During CPAWS-Yukon’s Three Rivers community tour from Mayo, YT to Inuvik, NWT in June 2006, the Tetlit Gwich’in Renewable Resources Council asked us to help organize a Gathering to bring together people from Mayo, Ft. McPherson, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic, Dawson City and Old Crow to discuss a common vision for the Peel watershed. We accepted the challenge and assisted with logistics and by sharing resource materials. Thank you to The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation for the generous funding that helped make this Gathering a reality.

The Gathering Vision and Statement will make a significant contribution to the Peel Watershed land use planning process. The Commission, tasked with planning the future of the 67,000-km2 watershed, has already heard from Ft. McPherson community members arriving home from the Gathering. The Commission will now have more direction from the communities about their hopes and desires for the future of this pristine area at the intersection of the boreal region and northern Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y).

The CPAWS Three Rivers campaign launches its 12-city Canadian tour in April 2007 entitled Journey to the Yukon’s Three Rivers: a celebration of art and wilderness.

Feb 27 07

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National conservation group calls for Fisheries Act with bite

View backgrounder (PDF, 40KB)

CPAWS, one of Canada\'s oldest and most respected national conservation organizations, is calling on the federal government to withdraw the proposed new Fisheries Act, Bill C-45, from second reading in Parliament until the Act is revised to give stronger protection for fish stocks and habitat.

Bill C-45, an update of Canada\'s Fisheries Act of 1868, was introduced in the House of Commons in December 2006 and was submitted for second reading on February 23rd 2007. CPAWS is concerned that the new Act does not provide sufficient measures for conservation and habitat stewardship.

"Canada needs a Fisheries Act that legislates the protection of fish habitat and an innovative management approach. Bill C-45 does not respond to the current crisis in our oceans, lakes and rivers. As it is written, it won\'t not restore damaged ecosystems or ensure sustainable fisheries," says Sabine Jessen, national manager of CPAWS\' Oceans and Freshwater Great Lakes program.

"Everyone agrees the current Act is in dire need of modernization to address current crises in global fisheries," says Jessen. "The world\'s oceans are under increasing assault from overfishing, pollution and global warming and are expected to collapse completely by mid-century without immediate action to protect habitats," she adds, quoting research by scientist Boris Worm of Dalhousie University published in the respected journal Science last fall.

CPAWS is concerned that Bill C-45 fails to set any clear environmental standards and leaves the Minister and fisheries managers with no obligation to identify and protect crucial fish habitat from destructive fishing practices.

"The Bill leaves standards to be set in the future through regulations," says Julie Huntington, a biologist and executive director of the CPAWS-Newfoundland chapter. "The Bill doesn\'t require the Minister to conserve or protect habitat. Stronger legislation than that is needed if we ever hope to recover Atlantic groundfish stocks," she adds.

"Canada needs an Act that legislates effective fisheries management," says Laura Hussey, marine coordinator of the CPAWS Nova Scotia chapter. "The preamble refers to an ecosystem approach to management, but the Bill does not mandate any requirements for this approach."

CPAWS has submitted a comprehensive federal action plan for nature conservation to the current government calling for increased spending on marine protection.

"We also need a new act that acknowledges current threats to fish and their habitat and provides clear provisions to address these threats - most importantly, the identification and stronger protection of critical fish habitats," says Jessen.



Sabine Jessen, National Manager, Oceans and Great Lakes, CPAWS
(604) 685-7445 ext. 27 or (604)657-2813 (cell)

Ellen Adelberg, Director of Communications, CPAWS
(613) 569-7226 ext. 234

Julie Huntington, Executive Director, CPAWS Newfoundland
(709) 726-5800

Laura Hussey, Marine Coordinator, CPAWS Nova Scotia
(902) 446-4155

Feb 22 07

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Chorus of celebrities and conservation groups call for protection of Ontario’s Boreal Forest
Capture green markets, respond to global warming, save caribou

TORONTO - Prominent Canadian authors, artists and musicians joined seven conservation groups today in calling on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to bolster his government\'s much anticipated climate change plan with protection of Ontario\'s Boreal Forest. A letter urging the Premier to fulfill his pre-election promise was sent by eleven prominent Canadians including Robert Bateman, Sarah Harmer, Cathy Jones, Yann Martel, and Clayton Ruby. They join conservation groups in championing an innovative plan to set aside vast swaths of intact Boreal Forest in the face of global warming while safeguarding threatened species and revitalizing Ontario\'s flagging forest sector. It would also elevate Ontario as a distinguished environmental leader within North America.

"Forests have long been valued by Canadians as an important part of our heritage." said awardwinning author and letter signatory, Barbara Gowdy. "Here\'s a chance for the Premier to share being a hero with our forests in fighting against climate change and providing critical habitat for caribou."

Government action to protect these intact forests would help Ontario capture a rapidly expanding market for eco-friendly products such as those certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It is estimated that the global market for ecologically harvested wood products is currently more than $5 billion - with hundreds of North American companies committing to shift to ecologically responsible forest products in recent years.

"Increasingly informed corporate consumers are reducing their carbon and biodiversity impacts by shifting to papers that are free of endangered and intact forests," said Nicole Rycroft,Executive Director of Markets Initiative. "Ontario stands to gain from North America\'s increasingly green market place but to do so; it requires significant leadership from the government and industry on Ontario\'s intact forest."

Logging activities in Canada\'s Boreal Forest are a significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions each year - releasing twice as much as all passenger vehicles in the country. It is also estimated that intact natural forests, when left undisturbed, store up to fifty percent more carbon than forests that are managed for logging. Protecting the carbon stored in the Boreal Forest provides a complementary strategy to a renewed effort to meet the targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol and beyond.

"The McGuinty government has an extraordinary opportunity for a huge ecological, political and economic victory," says Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS Wildlands League, "but only if they position Ontario as a global leader in ecologically-friendly forest products. This is essential in efforts to respond to global warming and save the majestic woodland caribou from extinction."

Before being elected, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised to implement a land-use planning regime for the northern third of the province, an area that until now has been off limits to logging. So far he has failed to deliver on this promise in spite of the fact that conservation based land use planning is seen as an essential first step for sustainable economic development in the North.  Additionally, environmental organizations have identified intact areas of Ontario\'s allocated Boreal forest that should immediately be deferred from logging. These deferrals would not cause mill closure or job losses as recent mill closures have freed up millions of cubic meters of standing timber.

For more information, please visit or contact:
Janet Sumner, Executive Director, CPAWS Wildlands League, (416) 579-7370 (cell)
Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director, Markets Initiative (250) 725-8050 (cell)
Tzeporah Berman, Strategic Director, ForestEthics (250) 935-0061
Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science, Ontario Nature (416) 846-2404
Kim Fry, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada (647) 406-0664
Dr. Anastasia Lintner, Staff Lawyer & Economist, Sierra Legal (416) 368-7533 ext 30
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council (202) 289-2366


Feb 21 07

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Peel Appeal—CPAWS Yukon brochure
Conservation in the Peel Watershed could conserve a globally important mountain boreal ecosystem both for its inherent value and as a benchmark for more developed ecosystems elsewhere, would allow for appropriate new economic and community development compatible with a healthy ecosystem, and more.

Learn more about why the Peel Watershed is so important, and how it is threatened.

Download the new brochure from CPAWS Yukon:

Peel Appeal (PDF, ~360K)

Feb 06 07

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CPAWS welcomes Baird’s personal commitment to conservation in the north

CPAWS welcomes Environment Minister John Baird\'s personal commitment to protecting large areas in the Northwest Territories, including expanding Nahanni National Park Reserve.

On January 31st the Minister addressed First Nations Chiefs and conservation groups, including CPAWS, at a reception in Ottawa. In his remarks, Minister Baird committed to moving forward with his colleagues on:

  • expanding Nahanni National Park Reserve;
  • permanently protecting Sahoyue ehdacho National Historic Site on the shores of Great Bear Lake with the community of Deline;
  • The "Ramparts," a sacred place for the people of Fort Good Hope, and a nationally-significant wetland proposed for protection as a National Wildlife Area;
  • The "Horn Plateau", a unique ecological and cultural landscape for the Dehcho First Nations and a proposed National Wildlife Area;
  • A proposed national park in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, as well as conserving surrounding lands in the Akaitcho Territory;

CPAWS will be working to ensure that the federal government takes concrete action soon to fulfill these commitments.

Feb 01 07

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How Ottawa can protect our Made in Canada wilderness

Proactive nature conservation is critical to enable natural ecosystems to respond to the impacts of climate change. CPAWS is calling on the federal government to implement a Federal Action Plan for Nature Conservation that will protect some of the world\'s largest remaining wilderness areas, and serve as a model for other Canadian governments and the rest of the world.

February 2007
Read the full message to MPs (PDF, 600K)

Feb 01 07

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CPAWS Board Member Appointed the TransAlta Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability

Congratulations to Dr. Robert (Bob) Page on his appointment as The TransAlta Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability.

TransAlta, The University of Calgary and the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE) have partnered to create this new Professorship within ISEEE, the Faculty of Environmental Design and the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.

ISEEE, as a uniquely integrative Institute, provides the Professor the opportunity to collaborate with multiple faculties, and to bring together leaders from industry, government and other post-secondary institutes to address the most pressing challenges – and tap the most exciting opportunities – in the area of sustainable energy, environment and economy.

Working within ISEEE and its partner Faculties’ collaborative, multidisciplinary and mission-oriented framework, the Professor will:

  • Engage in innovative research, education and outreach to advance environmental management and sustainability in energy and environment, at the regional, national and international levels.
  • Provide advice and counsel to TransAlta on policy and regulatory issues and environmental strategies, and evaluation of proposed energy projects.
  • Contribute to TransAlta’s role as a recognized leader in energy and environment sustainability.
  • Advise on investments in the U of C.

Dr. Robert Page has been on the Board of Directors at the Calgary/Banff Chapter of CPAWS since 2006. We congratulate him on this esteemed appointment.

Read Dr. Robert Page\'s biography at CPAWS Calgary.

Feb 01 07

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Adventure canoeists to present Ontario Boreal wilderness conservation message at Toronto Symposium
Two Canadian adventurers who undertook arduous canoe trips through Ontario’s northern Boreal forest last summer will be present their experiences to about 600 other extreme canoeists at the Wilderness Canoe Symposium on February 3rd at Monarch Park Collegiate in Toronto.

Jay Morrison paddled solo 3,000 kilometres between April and August 2006 starting at Les Escoumins at the Gulf of St Lawrence and ending in Lake Winnipeg as a personal challenge and a quest to promote Boreal wilderness conservation. Evan Ferrari paddled 700 kilometres, retracing an old fur traders’ route from Lake Superior to James Bay last July in an attempt to understand the plight of Ontario’s endangered woodland caribou.

Says Ferrari, “The best way to stop caribou extinction is by creating protected areas large enough to sustain healthy populations of Caribou in Ontario’s boreal forest and keep logging out of caribou habitat.  Few people in southern Ontario are aware that this slow motion extinction could happen in our children’s lifetime.”

Ferrari traveled up the Michipicoten River and then down the Missinaibi/Moose River system.

Morrison paddled the St Lawrence, battling late snow and winds, to the Ottawa River then inland and over the northern waters of Lake Superior until he reached Fort Frances and then onward towards Lake Winnipeg.

Ferrari is the Director of the Parks and Protected Areas Program at the CPAWS-Wildlands League and Morrison is a board member of the CPAWS Ottawa-Valley Chapter. Both will be talking about the link between their adventures and the imperative to protect our remaining northern Boreal wilderness.


For interviews, please contact:
Evan Ferrari – (416) 971-9453 xt 43
Jay Morrison -- (905) 820-0226

Across The Boreal - From Inland Sea to Arctic Ocean (Click on Photo to advance)

Jan 24 07

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Groups call on Ontario Government to Proceed with Introduction of New Endangered Species Act
TORONTO -- As the provincial government concludes its public consultation on changes to the Ontario Endangered Species Act, leading environmental groups today called on the government to follow through on its commitment to introduce a new Endangered Species Act as soon as the Legislature resumes sitting in March. The groups contend that the proposed legislative package, which includes funding, incentives, and an exceptions process, presents a balanced approach to protecting endangered species while addressing the concerns of landowners and resource users.

The groups - CPAWS Wildlands League, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, Sierra Legal, and David Suzuki Foundation - are partners in the Save Ontario\'s Species (S.O.S.) campaign (

Monday was the final day for public comment on the Province\'s proposed package of new legislation and programs that are intended to provide effective science-based protection for Ontario\'s approximately 200 endangered species and their habitats. The government proposal would implement the recommendations of a government-appointed panel of experts in science, law and Aboriginal matters.

"Reforming the Endangered Species Act so that it is better for species protection and affected landowners is long overdue," says Rachel Plotkin, an Ontario-based Policy Analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.
 "If the government follows through on its promise to implement the expert panel\'s recommendations, Ontario will have the best endangered species law in the country," says Aaron Freeman, Policy Director for Environmental Defence.
Last month (December 14, 2006), Minister of Natural Resources, David Ramsay, indicated in the Legislature that the legislation would be tabled at the earliest opportunity in the spring session. "In a report submitted to the government in August, the advisory panel suggested a framework for legislation that provides effective protection and recovery measures as well as the necessary tools for practical application," he remarked, noting that the government would use the framework in developing its new legislation.
The groups agree that the proposed framework must address the concerns of landowners. "We agree the new Act needs a properly resourced stewardship fund for landowners. The costs of protecting species cannot be placed solely on those who steward the land," says Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science for Ontario Nature.
Robert Wright, Counsel for Sierra Legal, adds: "The province should announce proper stewardship funding and incentives at the same time as the Act is introduced in March. The suggested approach of combining strong new legislation with proper funding would create a win-win situation for wildlife and landowners."
The groups are critical, however, of the position taken by the Ontario Forest Industry Association. "The Ontario Forest Industry Association has recently taken to scare-mongering in an attempt to oppose the new Endangered Species Act. Their position seems to belie efforts being undertaken by industry leaders such as Tembec who are actually proactively examining their operations to reduce their impact upon threatened species like the Woodland Caribou," says Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS Wildlands League.
For a full copy of the expert panel report that the government is using as a basis for the new legislation, visit:

About Save Ontario\'s Species (
S.O.S. is a collaboration among CPAWS Wildlands League, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, Sierra Legal and the David Suzuki Foundation. The groups are working together to ensure that Ontario\'s new Endangered Species Act creates the necessary legal basis for protecting and restoring all of the province\'s species at risk. The S.O.S. Campaign is also supported by ForestEthics and Western Canada Wilderness Committee.


For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647) 280-9521 (cell);
Wendy Francis, Ontario Nature, (416) 846-2404;
Janet Sumner, CPAWS-Wildlands League, (416) 971-9453, ext. 39;
Robert Wright, Sierra Legal, (416) 368-7533 ext. 31;
Rachel Plotkin, David Suzuki Foundation, (613) 594-9026

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