The idea of “cold” is relative.

In November, when we traveled to Nunavik, Quebec, the deep freeze had set in and snow blanketed the treeless landscape; we were north of the treeline, so a November chill was to be expected. In Bella Bella in February, daffodils and cherry trees were coming into bloom and people were working on their boats, getting ready for the herring openings. In March, our work brought us to the Northeast Superior Region of Ontario, where we were greeted by towering piles of snow – on roofs, in front yards, and looming snowbanks along the highway!

They tell me that it has “warmed up” when it is a balmy -17 degrees in Chapleau Cree territory, compared to -40 earlier in the week. Despite the chill outside, it is warm inside. The morning is spent finalizing and affirming the vision of the Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs’ Forum Elders’ Council for the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. There is groundbreaking work happening in this region, as the Elders take a leadership role in setting the tone and agenda for future planning and economic development on their land. The Provincial Government, municipalities, and forest industry alike are coming to the table to share their knowledge and learn about the region’s vision and goals.

Ecotrust Canada has been supporting the region for the past four years, working with people in the region to explore what a Conservation Economy could mean here and how it can be implemented in a practical way. From economic analyses to human resources and capacity assessments, from feasibility studies to bringing First Nations and stakeholders around a common table, and from mapping critical values and resources to exploring the creation of a Guardian program, this region is looking at how to holistically steward, manage, and protect the resources and values that are important to the people who call this place home.

We’re thrilled to be supporting and involved in this work, and we are humbled and inspired by the people who are involved – putting their hearts and souls into building a better future.


Devlin Fernandes
Program Manager, Living Lab