Government of Canada announces funding for Indigenous communities to protect species at risk and their habitats

News release

June 27, 2024 – Gatineau, Quebec

Indigenous peoples have been stewards of the land, water, and ice since time immemorial. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the work that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis are doing to protect and recover species at risk in Canada. Efforts to conserve nature, reduce threats to species, and foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing are central to Canada’s plan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve a full recovery for nature by 2050. Supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation is essential to achieving these targets.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced up to $6 million in funding over the next three years through the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk to support 49 conservation projects across Canada. These projects are led by Indigenous nations and organizations, reflecting their unique values, interests, and knowledge in taking action to recover species at risk.

The Fund plays an important role in the conservation of species at risk across Indigenous lands and territories. It supports longstanding Indigenous leadership in stewarding land, water, animals, and plants, as well as meaningful participation in the implementation of the Species at Risk Act. For example:

  • Wotstak First Nation’s initiative will help develop the stewardship of species at risk by surveying, developing strategies incorporating Indigenous Knowledge, and enabling community members to have an active leadership role as Indigenous Guardians for species at risk.
  • Olokhaktomiut Hunter’s and Trapper’s Committee’s initiative will help maintain a monitoring program for the Species at Risk Act-listed Dolphin and Union Caribou. This will include training on sample collection, studying the long-term health of the Dolphin and Union Caribou populations, and contributing valuable Inuit Knowledge that will be used to inform Dolphin and Union Caribou conservation in areas around Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories.
  • The Otipemisiwak Métis Government will contribute to species recovery of at-risk bumble bees and Barn Swallows in Central Alberta. This project will involve non-lethal population monitoring for at-risk bumble bees, such as the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee and the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee, the installation and monitoring of a Barn Swallow nesting structure, the installation of species-at-risk interpretive signage, and citizen-focused interpretive programming on a Métis-led Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA).

By working in partnership, the Government of Canada, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are making meaningful progress with recovering species at risk and protecting their habitats.


“For the love of our communities, we must continue to preserve the natural world for current and future generations. Supporting Indigenous-led conservation through the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk is crucial in the fight against biodiversity loss and the protection of Canada’s diverse species and their habitats. We must continue to share knowledge and learn from one another to cultivate a greener future for the environment, our communities, and our economy.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change                                                                 

“Wotstak First Nation will be a strong, healthy, and vibrant community, providing its residents with a high quality of life and a pleasant and safe community within which to live, work, play, and raise a family. It will strive to be a sustainable community in which there is a balance between community growth and development, preservation and protection of the natural environment, and social progress for its residents with respect to health, education, family values, and employment. It will recognize its intrinsic relationship with Mother Earth; respect the land, water, and air that sustains it; and preserve that situation for the benefit of future generations. This includes recognizing and adapting to the effects of climate change that will continue to challenge the community. At the same time, it will ensure that its heritage and culture are alive and will flourish among its families, youth, and elders. It will have respect for all peoples and strive for fairness and equitable policies and practices and aim to maximize benefits for all.”
– Councillor William Polchies, Wotstak First Nation

“Caribou have long been foundational to the livelihoods of Indigenous populations in the North. But caribou are facing an unprecedented level of threat with climate change, habitat loss, and predation. This project with the Olokhaktomiut Hunters and Trappers Committee is empowering the Inuit to study the long-term health of the Dolphin and Union Caribou herds, incorporating valuable traditional Inuit knowledge. It is through better knowledge that we can help protect these beloved species at risk.”
– Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

“A defining part of Métis culture has always been our deep connection to the land and extensive knowledge of the interconnectedness of species and their landscapes. Our native species, such as our bumble bees and Barn Swallows, play a crucial role in the Métis Homeland through their relationships and interactions with the environment, which we are a part of. Like the Métis, many of our native species have been displaced and have experienced drastic and rapid changes in the places they once called home. As stewards and protectors of the land, we need to be empowered to preserve and protect the species with whom we live alongside. We are excited to have the unique opportunity to monitor and support these declining species on our first Métis-led Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA).”
– Jason Chernow, Provincial Secretary of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management—Otipemisiwak Métis Government

Quick facts

  • The Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk prioritizes projects that build Indigenous capacity to support on-the-ground stewardship actions for species at risk and the respectful gathering and co-application of Indigenous Knowledge in species at risk conservation.

  • From its inception in 2004 to 2022, the Fund has supported approximately 1,330 projects by providing more than $50 million in funding.

  • Indigenous peoples are recognized worldwide as protectors of nature, with Indigenous peoples’ lands and territories containing as much as 80 percent of the world’s remaining forest biodiversity.

  • Twenty-seven new projects are the result of a call for applications that occurred in the fall of 2022. Twenty-two new projects are the result of a call for applications that occurred in the fall of 2023.

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Kaitlin Power
Senior Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
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)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s X (Twitter) page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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