The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) says a partnership happening near Brandon serves as inspiration to advance Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. It can also serve as an example for how conservation success can be achieved hand-in-hand with members of the community.

The charitable organization is working with local Anishinaabe representatives and the Beddome family to jointly steward and monitor 305 hectares on the banks of the Assiniboine River, south of Shilo. The announcement is being made as a celebration and testament of the whole-of-society approach necessary to address the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

The area is important culturally, agriculturally and for biodiversity conservation. Near to an area known as Waggle Springs, the land has been named Wabano Aki following a naming ceremony with Elder Roddy McKay, Anishinaabe cultural support worker Ken Norquay, Gordon Beddome and NCC, collectively known as the Stewards of Wabano Aki. During the process, all parties shared their experiences, stories and understandings of how to live in relationship with the land. In Anishinaabe, Wabano Aki translates to Tomorrows Land.

The land supports freshwater springs, mixed-grass prairie, wetlands and forest habitats. The property is an important home for many wildlife and plant species, including northern leopard frog and round leaf monkey flower, and at-risk birds, such as Sprague’s pipit and eastern wood-pewee.

Over the past five years, the groups have worked together to build relations, trust and understanding. NCC wants to respectfully accommodate and honour the traditions of the Anishinaabe peoples.

Collectively, the Stewards of Wabano Aki all are working to conserve the land and species that grow and live there, hand in hand with the human community that depends on it, sustainably into the future. The Stewards will continue to embrace agriculture, conservation and ceremonial purposes on the land. A plan for managing the property includes collaborative approaches to access and different uses of the lands and traditional Indigenous knowledge and practices as well as best conservation science. Portions of the property are also being leased by one of the previous landowners and other renters for grazing cattle and goats.

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