KI Nation Paddles 300 km to Protect their Wild Watershed

By Rainforest Action Network
KI Indigenous Nation Watershed. Photo by Allan Lissner.

Canada’s Boreal forest is part of the world’s largest land-based carbon storehouse. It is also the world’s greatest reservoir of fresh water, and is among the largest unlogged forests left on the planet. But the Boreal has been under threat for years, and, as is often the case, local Indigenous peoples who live in and off of the forest are on the front line defending this majestic forest. The people of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), in particular, are doing some pretty inspiring work.

Through our relationship with Earthroots, an Ontario, Canada-based grassroots organization, and RAN’s role as a grantmaking advisor to Global Greengrants Fund, RAN has helped provide $10,000 in support over the last few years towards the KI Indigenous Nation’s efforts to protect their vast 13,025 square km watershed in a roadless area of Boreal forest.

The above mentioned grants helped support KI’s successful blockade and campaign that resulted in mining company Platinex leaving their territory, as well as a comprehensive consultation process resulting in a Watershed Declaration, which places the entire watershed off limits to industry under KI’s Indigenous Law and a establishes the process required to secure KI consent prior to any decision being made affecting their lands and resources.

Starting this week, the KI Nation invites you to follow a team of paddlers embarking on a two-week, 300 km canoe expedition along an ancient trading route from their remote fly-in community to Hudson’s Bay. The paddlers aim to raise awareness about the need to fully implement the KI Watershed Declaration. The community has already successfully pressured the Ontario government to withdraw approximately half of the watershed from all mining activity, and now they’re calling on the Province to expand that decision to the full wild Fawn River watershed.

En route on the canoe expedition they will use satellites to transmit blogs, photos, and audio to thousands of supporters via social media portals as they share the landscape with threatened woodland caribou, wolves, sturgeon, polar bears, beluga whales and the iconic northern lights.

You can follow their journey, join the KI Support Facebook page and call on the Ontario government to respect KI’s demands to govern their territory and protect their land and water from unwanted mining.

“The KI people have protected our entire home watershed through Indigenous Law,” said KI Chief Donny Morris. “Now we are calling on Ontario to respect our protection before this sacred landscape is poisoned by the diamond, gold, and metals mining companies who have set their sights on it.”