Canada and the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources partner on expanding and preserving Mi’kmaq environmental and traditional knowledge
Eskasoni, Nova Scotia, June 29, 2022—Today, Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; Chief Leroy Denny, Eskasoni First Nation, and Chief Terry Paul, Membertou First Nation, announced over $4.8 million in combined funding to construct a new building that will support learning, research and the sharing of Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge.
Funding will go towards the construction of a net-zero carbon facility to house both the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) and the Mi’kmaq Environmental Learning Centre (MELC). The five Mi’kmaq communities of Unama’ki (Eskasoni, Membertou, Potlotek, Wagmatcook, and We’koqma’q) will benefit from the facility, which will be able to host community gatherings and deliver education and outreach programming. In addition, there will be a library, a laboratory, and space for staff to conduct scientific and academic research. The facility will be important for encouraging the intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge and advancing Indigenous-led conservation.
The UINR is a trusted voice for the five Mi’kmaq communities in Unama’ki, also known as Cape Breton, on natural resources issues. It conducts environmental monitoring, education and management and an overall better understanding and protection of the Unama’ki ecosystem. The MELC preserves the knowledge, traditions and values of Mi’kmaq Elders on environmental sustainability. Providing these organizations a modern and energy efficient facility will support them in fulfilling their respective missions.
The Government of Canada is investing over $4.4 million for this project, while over $427,000 is being provided by the UINR.
“The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources and the Mi’kmaq Environmental Learning Centre are central to preserving the knowledge of Mi’kmaq elders. The retention and promotion of that knowledge is more important than ever as environmental issues are at the forefront of people’s minds in Cape Breton and around the country - and this new facility will help them take their work to the next level. I am so pleased to see this long-dreamed about project become a reality.”
Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
“The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources was built on the vision of the late Chief Charlie Joe Dennis of Eskasoni. Charlie’s vision was of Mi’kmaw stewardship throughout Unama’ki. Eskasoni First Nation is pleased to be able to donate land for UINR’s new facility. We are proud of UINR staff for their dedication to the important conservation and stewardship work they do on behalf of Unama’ki communities. A new building will allow UINR to continue this work, and to keep Charlie’s vision alive.”
Chief Leroy Denny, Eskasoni First Nation
“For the past 23 years, the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources has been a leader in advancing Indigenous led conservation and the revitalization of Mi’kmaq values. And the Mi’kmaq Environmental Learning Center has played a key role in sharing these values with communities throughout Unama’ki and beyond. This new facility will reflect the values from the past, and is a testament to the success of UINR’s work as they pass on these lessons to future generations.”
Chief Terry Paul, Membertou First Nation
“I am very grateful for the continued support shown to UINR by our leadership and community members. In particular our Elders who so generously share their knowledge and wisdom. Having a facility for them to gather which will reflect those teachings and values is an amazing feeling.”
Lisa Young, Executive Director of the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources
The Government of Canada’s funding comes from the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings (GICB) program.
Launched in April 2021, the GICB is a $1.5 billion program that supports green and accessible retrofits, repairs or upgrades of existing public community buildings and the construction of new publicly-accessible community buildings that serve high-needs, underserved communities across Canada.
At least 10 percent of funding is allocated to projects serving First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, including Indigenous populations in urban centres.
This program will help the Government of Canada reach its emissions reduction targets by 2030 and its net-zero objectives by 2050.
Federal funding is conditional on fulfilling all requirements related to environmental assessment.
Provincial/territorial governments, municipal or regional governments, public sector bodies, not-for-profit, and Indigenous organizations interested in the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program are invited to apply on the Infrastructure Canada website.
Applicants with large retrofit projects to existing community buildings or new community building projects with total eligible costs ranging from $3 million to $25 million were accepted through a competitive intake process which closed on July 6, 2021. A second intake is anticipated later in 2022, however, the date has not yet been determined. Details about the second intake will be published to the Infrastructure Canada – Green and Inclusive Community Buildings’ website as soon as they become available.
Announced in December 2020, Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan includes 64 new measures and $15 billion in investments towards a healthy environment and economy.
The funding announced today builds on the Government of Canada’s work through the Atlantic Growth Strategy to create well-paying middle class jobs, strengthen local economies, and build inclusive communities.
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
Manager, Communications & Outreach
Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources
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