The Environment Sector provides advice, guidance, and recommendations to the Political Confederacy (PC) and Chiefs of Ontario on water, natural resources, energy, species at risk, traditional knowledge, environmental assessments, mining, climate change, and others.
SPECIES AT RISK
The purpose of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) legislation passed in 2002 is to prevent wildlife species, such plants, animals or organisms found in the wild and native to Canada, from becoming extirpated or extinct; as well as to provide the renewal of species that are extirpated, extinct or vulnerable to human activity; and to manage the species of special concern.
Much of the forestry-related legislation and initiatives value forests in terms of its ability to act as a carbon off-set. Forests will be a huge asset to Canada as the cap and trade method of regulating green house gasses is quickly becoming the dominant approach North American governments are taking to establish a green economy and fight climate change.
THE FAR NORTH
The Far North makes up 42% of the Ontario’s land mass. The Far North Act supports the protection of at least half of the Far North or approximately 225,000 square kilometres in a network of protected areas. The Far North is also significant in that it absorbs approximately 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air each year.
Ontario’s boreal forest extends from the northern limits of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest to the Hudson Bay Lowlands with an area of 50 million hectares. This region contains two thirds of Ontario’s forest. Interest in protecting the Boreal Forests may stem from the enormous amount of carbon stored in the ecosystem, and will play an important role in carbon emission forest offset programs within provincial climate change mitigation, legislation and Cap and Trade economics. Ontario and Quebec are particularly interested in carbon trading development visible in the Ontario-Quebec Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the bi-national Western Climate Initiative.
DRINKING WATER SAFETY
Unsafe drinking water and waste water systems pose a severe risk to our citizens, undermining the overall wellness of our communities. 84% of water treatment plants are at high or medium risk in First Nation communities in Ontario. The Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation estimates that it will cost approximately $228 – $296 million to upgrade the 158 existing water treatment plants. Many factors contribute to the prevalence of unsafe drinking water in our communities, such as a lack of resourcing to upkeep or build necessary infrastructure, inadequate disinfection systems, and contamination from industrial activities.
“We, the Anishinaabek, the Mushkegowuk, and the Onkwehonwe, are the land. Our ancestors were the land, we are the land and our youth and future generations will be the land… What we do to the land – we do to ourselves, and to our future generations…..We draw from sacred law, traditional law, customary laws – we need to protect the lands, the waters and all living things for future generations.”
We are the Land Declaration 2010
ELDERS AND YOUTH WATER GATHERING 2015
Over 70 First Nations youthand elders gathered in Sault Ste. Marie in March 2015 to attend the Chiefs of Ontario’s Following in the footsteps of our Ancestors Elders and Youth Water Gathering. Participants discussed the role of First Nations traditional ecological knowledge in protecting the Great Lakes.
CONTACT THE ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT
Kathleen Padulo, Environment Coordinator
Toronto Office: (416) 597-1266
Sally Gaikezheyongai, Coordinator – Health & Environment