Nature Canada

Field Notes from Eeyou Istchee

For nearly a decade, Nature Canada has worked collaboratively with members of the Cree Nation Government, the Cree Trappers Association (CTA), the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board (EMR), and the coastal Cree communities.

About the program

For nearly a decade, Nature Canada has worked to support the Cree Nation Government, the Cree Trappers Association (CTA), the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board (EMR), and the coastal Cree communities’ interests and efforts to identify and protect important bird and wildlife habitat along the James Bay coast of the Eeyou Istchee.
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.

Why we’re doing this work

With mounting threats from climate change, resources exploration and development, pollution, and economic uncertainty, the importance of protecting the areas on which the Cree culture depends is crucial. In protecting these areas, other biodiversity also benefits from the protection. Our work, in support of and in partnership with the Cree, has been focused on identifying important bird habitat, documenting the presences of threatened wildlife, and collaborating with the local communities to meet their needs and goals.

Important bird habitat for this work can be described as places that accommodate large numbers of birds including species of cultural importance like geese and ducks, species that are declining or in trouble like shorebirds, and of course, species at risk such as the endangered Red Knot, the threatened Hudsonian Godwit and Common Nighthawk, or the special concern Yellow Rail.


The Cree have a very strong connection to the land, and to many bird species, particular geese that are a staple in their diet. With a strong interest and determination to protect and maintain their traditional ways of life, including hunting, trapping and living off the land — having healthy ecosystems is an essential part of this.

Shorebirds, as a group, require special conservation attention. They have declined by about 40 percent over the last 50 years. Most shorebirds species in Canada breed in the Arctic or subarctic and use the coastlines of Hudson and James Bay.

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international collaborative research network that uses a coordinated automated radio telemetry array to track the movement and behaviour of small flying animals outfitted with tiny micro transmitters.

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.

Through the work and collaboration this project inspired, we have been able to compile resources to give you more information about the surveying and protection work that resulted.

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