In Winter 2022 MA Student Kraig Matthews started his research on Decolonizing Ontario’s provincial parks: Building relationships and aligning with First Nations conservation initiatives in the Mnidoo Gamii region (Georgian Bay).
This project aims to contribute towards modernizing government protected areas (provincial parks and conservation reserves) by learning about how they can better engage local First Nations governments, align conservation goals, and build stronger community connections. Improving relationships and engaging in more collaborative conservation initiatives could result in better coordination of regional environmental protection, application of Indigenous conservation methods, expanded employment opportunities, and improved cultural awareness of park visitors and staff.
This project is focused in the Mnidoo Gamii (eastern Georgian Bay) region of Ontario, and is guided by a Regional Advisory Group consisting of community and organizational staff from around the region.
This work is being conducted as a part of the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership, and responds to calls for changes in how land is protected in Canada. We need rethink what is meant by ‘conservation’ and re-examine how nature is protected in a way that aligns with Indigenous notions of environmental stewardship.
As Kraig begins his interviews with First Nations conservation leaders and Ontario Parks staff, he says: “I’m excited to start having conversations that can contribute towards the responsible and respectful evolution of government protected areas! I am also looking forward to meeting new people and continuing to grow friendships as we share stories, perspectives, and ideas about the future of conservation in the Mnidoo Gamii region.”