Nature Canada

The Challenge Grant Project

In 2019, the Cree Nation Government was awarded a multi year grant from the Canada Nature Fund of the Government of Canada to identify new protected areas within the territory of the Cree Nation.

As part of this project, Nature Canada, in partnership with the CTA and EMR, will organize and lead expeditions over the next few years along the coastal zone of all of the Cree communities to identify important places for birds and species at risk building on our work since 2012.

Work began in Wemindji in 2019, with an early September expedition focussing on shorebirds. Our team included George, the Wemindji EMR officer, Henry and Ernie, local tallymen and boat pilots, Marc-Antoine Montpetit, expert birder, Felix Boulanger, the biologist with the EMRWB, the cook and myself. Over 9 days we observed 90 species, identified several important sites, and even had some surprises. The biggest was finding two Northern Wheatears, a small songbird of the Eastern Arctic and northern Europe that had never been observed along the eastern James Bay coast previously!


Due to the ongoing pandemic and safety guidelines, expeditions in 2020 were postponed. Over the next few years, once the communities and Cree territory reopen, we will organize and conduct bird surveys in the coastal zones of Eastmain, Wemindji, Chisasibi and Wapmagoostui.

The Future

Our intention is to identify and compile information based on our observations and those from the community, that allows us to map the important places for birds. It will then be up to the Cree Nation Government, the local communities and all of the other partners to use that information to protect the coastal ecosystem for the Cree and for the birds.

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