Protect the Seal River Watershed

You can support Indigenous-led conservation and help get the Seal River Watershed protected. Ask the Government of Manitoba to make establishing the Seal River Watershed Indigenous Protected Area a priority.

The Seal River Watershed: A Pristine Landscape

In the northernmost reaches of Manitoba there is a pristine expanse of tundra, wetlands, and forests as vast as Nova Scotia.

There are no permanent roads. No dams. No mines. No industrial development of any kind. Caribou and polar bears roam beneath massive flocks of birds near a powerful river teeming with beluga whales, seals, and fish.

Four First Nations, CPAWS Manitoba and others are working together to protect one of the last great wild places on our planet as an Indigenous Protected Area.

Only one community is located in the 50,000 square kilometre Seal River watershed: the Sayisi Dene First Nation, which lies on the beautiful shores of Tadoule Lake and has a population of fewer than 400 people.

Sayisi Dene First Nation is leading the initiative to protect the entire watershed from industrial activity in partnership with Northlands Denesuline First Nation, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, Barren Lands First Nation, and their Inuit neighbours.

“Our vision is to ensure our grandchildren’s grandchildren have the opportunity to engage in traditional practices such as hunting, fishing and serving as guardians of the land and animals within a healthy watershed.”

– Ernie Bussidor, Executive Director of the Seal River Watershed Alliance

An Abundance of Wildlife

An overwhelmingly crucial presence on the physical and cultural landscape are the 400,000 caribou which travel south from Nunavut to winter near the Seal River.

The Beverly herd is considered highly vulnerable while the Qamanirjuaq herd has been declining by 2% a year since 2008. Traditionally hunted by Inuit and Dene communities of present day Nunavut and northern Manitoba, these majestic animals are an irreplaceable part of the ecosystem and a spectacular representation of Canada’s wild landscape that we cannot afford to compromise.

There are at least 20 known species at risk — including polar bears, beluga whales, wolverines, grizzly bears, killer whales, and olive-sided flycatchers — in the Seal River region.

The Last Truly Wild River in Manitoba

Recognized as the “last truly wild river in Manitoba,” the Seal was designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1992.

The Seal River’s free-flowing path spans 260 km from its source in Shethanei Lake to Hudson Bay, a remarkable white water adventure with long sets of rapids and a boulder-strewn tidal estuary. Carving a path east through untouched subarctic forest, the Seal offers spectacular views, including 300 metre-wide eskers which extend several hundred kilometres in a north-south direction.

The scents of spruce and lichen mingle as the landscape transitions to tundra and to the peat rich soils of the Hudson Bay lowlands, North America’s largest wetland.

Credit: Ernie Bussidor


Northern Manitoba / Territory of the Sayisi Dene First Nation 


● Potential Industrial activity

Potential Protected Area

50,000 km2

Who’s Involved?

The Seal River Watershed Alliance: Sayisi Dene First Nation, Northlands Denesuline First Nation, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, and Barren Lands First Nation; CPAWS Manitoba; Indigenous Leadership Initiative

Campaign Active


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