August 25, 2022 – Métabetchouan–Lac-à-la-Croix, Quebec - The caribou is an iconic species for Canadians. It is at the heart of the boreal forest ecosystem and plays an important role in the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples.
The Government of Canada is determined to work in collaboration with the provinces, Indigenous Peoples, and all stakeholders to protect and re-establish the caribou.
That is why the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, is visiting a number of regions in Quebec to meet and engage in discussions with Indigenous nations and other stakeholders about the collaboration required in order to protect the caribou and the progress made in the discussions with the Government of Quebec.
As part of the federal government’s commitment to protecting the caribou, Minister Guilbeault is announcing $4.6 million in funding in 2022 to support five Indigenous communities in Quebec in their efforts to conserve the caribou and caribou habitat. Part of that amount will come from the $6.1 million announced as a result of negotiations with Quebec earlier this week, bringing the total funding directed to Indigenous organizations in Quebec for this purpose to $15 million since 2018.
Yesterday, Minister Guilbeault visited the Cree community in Oujé-Bougoumou. In addition, he met with the Syndicat des Métallos, a private-sector union, in Chibougamau to discuss protection of the caribou and sustainable forestry practices. He also visited the Chantiers Chibougamau tree-processing and building-materials complex and the Barrette-Chapais sawmill and wood-processing plant. Today, Minister Guilbeault is visiting the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and Québec City regions, where he is meeting with representatives of three Indigenous nations: Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation (Innu of Mashteuiatsh), Innu of Essipit First Nation and the Wendat-Huron Nation.
The current status of the caribou is a stark illustration of the need for Canada and the rest of the world to slow and reverse the loss of biodiversity as quickly as possible. In December of this year, Canada will welcome the international community to Montréal during the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) on biological diversity. With its international partners, Canada will champion both the development of an ambitious global framework for biodiversity, including clear objectives and actions, and the important role Indigenous knowledge plays in our efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity and natural environments in Canada and around the world.
“We have made progress with the Government of Quebec, but that is only one step, as broader collaboration with all of the partners involved is necessary in order to protect the caribou effectively. Today’s announcement about the funding for projects run by various Indigenous groups will contribute to the protection of the caribou and their habitat, and its objective is to help in re-establishing the herds. My visits to different regions in Quebec are giving me the opportunity to build relationships and strengthen the collaboration we already have with the important actors on the ground.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
In Canada, the boreal caribou has been designated as threatened under the Species at Risk Act since 2003.
Since 2018, the Government of Canada has signed agreements on conservation of the boreal caribou with a number of provinces, territories and Indigenous Peoples, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Cold Lake First Nations.
Between 2018 and 2022, $4.3 million was transferred by the Government of Canada to the Government of Quebec for the protection and re-establishment of the boreal caribou.
It is estimated that the boreal caribou population in Quebec totals approximately 4,950 individuals.
Caribou need large areas of undisturbed habitat in order to survive. The primary threat to boreal caribou is habitat loss caused by human activities or by forest fires. The species is also threatened by climate change, predators and diseases.
One of the best ways to help the caribou populations is to protect and conserve nature, including by supporting the establishment of new protected areas and by restoring habitat that has been disturbed. The Government of Canada has committed to conserving 25 percent of Canada’s lands, fresh water and oceans by 2025 and to making every effort to raise that proportion to 30 percent by 2030.