How to save the salmon

What do you do when sockeye salmon are under threat and negotiations with B.C. have stalled? For the Gitanyow, the answer is to propose a plan to create an Indigenous Protected Area

What do you do when a region critical for spawning sockeye salmon is under threat? You protect it. It sounds simple. For the Gitanyow, though, it has been anything but.

So after four years of trying to work with the province, Hereditary Chiefs of the northwest B.C. First Nation are taking matters into their own hands with a plan to create a new Indigenous Protected Area.

The Gitanyow, in partnership with the province, signed a landmark agreement back in 2012 that led to the creation of a 24,000-hectare conservancy. But in the years since, the sockeye population in that area has declined amid temperature changes in creeks. Things are much better farther north, around Meziadin Lake, but there’s a catch: increased mineral exploration.

Climate change has caused glaciers to recede, and the exposed rock has brought more prospectors to Gitanyow territory. And because the area isn’t protected, B.C.’s ancient mining laws — seriously, they date back to the 1800s — allow any individual or company to stake a claim without needing to consult or get consent from the Gitanyow.

The Gitanyow emphasize that they’re not against mining — but they do want to have a say over what areas are off limits.

The potential benefits of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas extend far beyond Gitanyow territory. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce The Narwhal is hosting a Zoom event on May 4 to dive into how Indigenous-led conservation is critical if Canada wants to follow through on its climate and biodiversity promises.

We’ve assembled a powerhouse panel of experts at the forefront of Indigenous conservation efforts in Canada and even have a special guest from Australia, where Indigenous leadership has helped the country reach its international conservation commitments.

There are only 1,000 spaces available and, if our recent events are any indication, they’ll fill up fast. Go here to RSVP today.

Take care and happy Earth Day,

Arik Ligeti
Audience engagement editor

The Narwhal in the world

“Call the doctor!” is now something we get to say on a daily basis at Narwhal HQ after our brilliant managing editor Carol Linnitt successfully defended her PhD dissertation.

What was Dr. Linnitt’s dissertation about, you might ask? The light topic of the End of the World through the lens of dystopian fiction. And she pulled off her defence — not only in front of the committee but also dozens of family and friends, including our Narwhal pod, tuning in over Zoom — with aplomb.

The committee at the University of Victoria all agreed: it was the best-attended and most-fun defence any of them have participated in. As fellow Narwhal Emma Gilchrist put it, “You must be one of the most eloquent PhD students to ever live.”

This week in The Narwhal

Saving the salmon: why the Gitanyow are creating a new Indigenous Protected Area

By Matt Simmons

After years of trying to get the province to protect an important salmon watershed, one northwest B.C. First Nation is taking matters into its own hands. Read more.

Federal budget gives farmers leg up in reducing carbon pollution

Paul Thoroughood farmer

By Sharon J. Riley

Ottawa pegs $270 million for ‘agricultural climate solutions’ to help farmers protect wetlands and adopt practices like cover cropping and rotational grazing. Read more.

How to save 30 per cent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2030

Naxginkw Tara Marsden Meziadin Lake

By Matthew Mitchell

Doubling the country’s protected areas would help conserve biodiversity and store carbon, Matthew Mitchell writes in this opinion piece. But with competing land uses like agriculture and natural resource extraction, Mitchell says we’ll need innovative solutions to make it happen. Read more.

What we’re reading

When city folks talk about getting out in nature, we often think about it as “escaping” urban life and heading up a highway for greener pastures. But as this pandemic has shown, there’s plenty of greenery to enjoy right at home.

As this feature in The Globe and Mail notes, more people have been spending time in parks over the past year — and they say doing so has been important for their mental health.

Urban ecosystems, by the way, are constantly being impacted by human encroachment. Take a virtual hike through that fraught relationship in this illustrated Globe piece.

When you’re chatting with Dr. Carol Linnitt. Getting a PhD is a lot of work, but signing up for our newsletter is easy. Spread the word (and eat your veggies).

New title

You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired five journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 3,300 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

We’ve drafted a plan to make 2021 our biggest year yet, but we need your support to make it all happen.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

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