Nature Canada
Caribou by John E. Marriott

Sakitawak IPCA – Indigenous Conservation in Action

A Métis-led initiative to create an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) in the community of Île-à-la-Crosse, in Northwestern Saskatchewan.

Sakitawak is Cree for “where the rivers meet”. In the middle of Canada’s vast boreal forest, it is home to one of the oldest permanent communities in Western Canada. The Indigenous Peoples of Sakitawak – the Métis, Woodland Cree, and Dene – who have called this area home for hundreds of years have the knowledge and skill to manage its resources sustainably for generations to come. The community and surrounding landscape are rich in both biodiversity and the traditional knowledge to preserve it. Culturally and economically important species for the Indigenous Peoples of Sakitawak are the Woodland Caribou, freshwater fish, and vast tracts of old-growth pine.

About the Campaign

Nature Canada has partnered with the Sakitawak IPCA to support their efforts to ensure a traditional trapping area located in Northern Saskatchewan’s pristine boreal forest becomes an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area under Métis management.

The designated area, the N-14 Fur Block, is home to three watersheds and is a breeding ground for a variety of species at risk, including the Woodland Caribou whose Boreal Forest population is listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

The Sakitawak IPCA is roughly 523,000 hectares or 22,000 square kilometres. If protected, it will be the third-largest IPCA in Canada.

Why This Is Important

  • Studies show that biodiversity outcomes are better when lands are managed by Indigenous Peoples such as the Métis of Sakitawak.
  • Caribou play a key role for biodiversity in Canada. They are an “umbrella species” meaning that their protection and restoration also benefits the thousands of other wildlife species that share their habitat. Caribou foraging plays a critical role in soil and forest health in the Boreal region.
  • The Indigenous Peoples of Sakitawak have a special relationship with the Woodland Caribou. Generations spent hunting and tracking on their land has given the Métis communities a strong cultural connection to the Woodland Caribou. Their strong traditional and local knowledge gives them a superior understanding of what steps are needed to protect and conserve them.
  • Protecting the boreal forest is critical for climate change mitigation. The boreal forest stores the equivalent of 26 years of the world’s carbon emissions and is an essential habitat for Canada’s wildlife.
  • Métis knowledge is indispensable to successful conservation and resource management of the area. The community’s understanding of the land encompasses centuries of knowledge and key findings not found in western science.

Eighty percent of the world’s biodiversity can be found in Indigenous land. Their leadership in conservation is imperative if we want to effectively protect nature for future generations. That’s why Nature Canada is advocating for Métis-led conservation in the Boreal forest.

You can help Nature Canada raise awareness of this critical initiative, save the Woodland Caribou and show your support for Métis-led conservation in Saskatchewan.

How to Help

Trees, flowers and animals are at risk in the Boreal Forest.

Join our online community to stay updated on Nature Canada’s partnership with the Sakitawak Métis Conservation Project as we work together to protect this critical landscape.

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.