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Canada boosts conservation and restoration efforts with investments in 27 new Indigenous-Led Natural Climate Solutions

Press Release

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

January 26, 2024 – Gatineau, Quebec

Indigenous peoples have been stewards of the land, water, and ice since time immemorial. Across the country, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis are braiding Indigenous Knowledge with modern science to offer solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss, while safeguarding the natural spaces we all depend on.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced an investment of almost $12.8 million to support 27 Indigenous-Led Natural Climate Solutions initiatives across Canada. These new initiatives will conserve, restore, and enhance land management of wetlands, peatlands, and grasslands to store and capture carbon while benefitting biodiversity, climate resiliency, and human well-being.

Some examples of these initiatives include:

  • The Métis Nation of Ontario initiative, which will support future Indigenous-led emissions reduction activities in Southern Ontario. These include developing the capacity for carbon accounting, educating citizens about natural climate solutions, and acquiring 40 hectares of wetlands for long-term conservation. The project will also support the development of a Métis culture and language camp that will focus on land-based education, providing access to additional eco-sites and traditionally important plant and animal species.
  • The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources initiative, which will conduct research and knowledge gathering into nature-based climate solutions and sustainable models for carbon-based projects on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The initiative will establish sites for researching and monitoring the use of nature-based climate solutions on coastal and Crown land, engage with Mi’kmaw leaders, youth, and other Knowledge Holders to share knowledge and create an evaluation framework for decision-making.
  • The Mikisew Cree First Nation initiative focuses on peatland restoration to preserve the integrity of caribou habitat and restore ecosystem services to promote carbon sequestration in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Activities and methods are informed by Traditional Knowledge and western science. Elders and Knowledge Keepers will be engaged throughout the initiative and Mikisew Guardians will develop Indigenous Science indicators to measure results. Ecologists are assisting with the identification of habitats suitable for restoration, providing training in restoration techniques and supporting carbon quantification.

Together, these Indigenous-led initiatives will help to address the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution—and their combined impacts. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting the leadership of Indigenous peoples to help conserve ecosystems, protect Indigenous cultures, and develop sustainable economies for our collective future generations.


“Indigenous-led conservation is proven to help land, water, and communities thrive, and it is central to Canada’s plan to reduce five to seven megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year from 2030 to 2050. The Indigenous-Led Natural Climate Solutions Program is crucial to these efforts, helping to protect ecosystems, species, and cultural heritage, while also having significant climate benefits.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Métis Nation of Ontario views environmental stewardship as one of its central objectives. The Métis Nation of Ontario Statement of Prime Purpose lays out the following aim: “To protect and preserve the land and waters within our homelands for future generations.” The Indigenous-Led Natural Climate Solutions Program is supporting the Métis Nation of Ontario in doing just that by providing support for the Sofgardé la Tèr Project. This project will allow the Métis Nation of Ontario to combat climate change through protecting carbon-rich landscapes and areas with high carbon sequestration potential from being developed. These protected lands will not only help to harness natural systems to combat climate change, but they will also support a landscape that can support many aspects of the Métis way of life. In rapidly urbanizing areas, such as the Greater Golden Horseshoe were the Sofgardé la Tèr Project is located, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Métis citizens to access land. Specifically, this project aims to support knowledge transfer—many Métis teachings are best done on the lands and waters, and this project will help to provide access.”

– Jesse Fieldwebster, Manager of Lands, Resources and Consultations, Métis Nation of Ontario

“Indigenous peoples, through their deep spiritual and cultural connection to the natural world, continue to be leaders in global conservation efforts. In Unama’ki, the Mi’kmaq are guided by principles such as Sespite’tmej (caring for our territory), Msit No’kmaq (all our relations and everything is connected), and Etuaptmumk (two-eyed seeing). Nature-based solutions are a way to fulfill our responsibility to care for gifts from the Creator. This funding will allow the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources to work with our Mi’kmaw communities, as well as Indigenous peoples from Canada and Australia, to develop ways to protect our lands and improve the well-being of our people guided by traditional Mi’kmaw values.”

– Lisa Young, Executive Director, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources

Quick facts

  • The Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund is a $1.4 billion, 10-year fund to support projects that conserve, restore, and enhance wetlands, peatlands, grasslands, and forests to store and capture carbon.
    • Of this amount, up to $76.9 million is allocated to provide targeted support for Indigenous peoples through the Indigenous-Led Natural Climate Solutions funding stream.
  • Indigenous peoples have long taken care of the land we all share. United Nations data suggests that Indigenous lands make up only around 20 percent of the Earth’s territory, but contain as much as 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
  • These types of Indigenous-led conservation initiatives integrate ecosystem health, community well-being, and economic sustainability, creating a more holistic and sustainable approach to conservation.
  • These initiatives will contribute to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and support Canada’s path to meet its 2030 climate target and be well-positioned to meet its 2050 climate target.
  • Canada has committed to conserving 25 percent of land and water by 2025, and to work toward conserving 30 percent by 2030.

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Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)



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