Supporting Indigenous-Led Conservation in Alberta: Honouring Tradition, Protecting Landscapes



As we honour Indigenous Peoples' Day this year, it's an opportune moment to reflect on the invaluable contributions of Indigenous communities to conservation efforts in Alberta. Across the province, Indigenous-led conservation initiatives are playing a vital role in safeguarding the natural landscapes, biodiversity, and cultural heritage that define Alberta's identity. At Alberta Ecotrust, we recognize the significance of supporting Indigenous-led conservation and are committed to advancing this crucial work.

Indigenous-led conservation holds profound importance for landscape protection in Alberta. Indigenous peoples have maintained deep connections to the land for millennia, stewarding the environment with traditional knowledge, practices, and values passed down through generations. By empowering Indigenous communities to lead conservation efforts on their traditional territories, we honour this rich heritage and tap into a wealth of ecological wisdom that offers innovative solutions to contemporary environmental challenges.

The lands and waters of Alberta are home to diverse ecosystems, wildlife species, and natural resources that sustain both human and non-human life. Indigenous-led conservation efforts prioritize the health and resilience of these ecosystems, recognizing that ecological well-being is intertwined with cultural and spiritual vitality. By protecting habitats, restoring degraded landscapes, and promoting sustainable land-use practices, Indigenous communities contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change impacts.

At Alberta Ecotrust, supporting Indigenous-led conservation aligns with our mission to build collaborative partnerships that advance environmental sustainability and social equity. We recognize that Indigenous peoples have inherent rights and responsibilities to their traditional lands and resources and that meaningful reconciliation requires centering Indigenous voices and perspectives in conservation decision-making processes. By investing in Indigenous-led initiatives, we strive to foster respectful relationships, amplify Indigenous leadership, and facilitate co-management approaches that promote shared stewardship of the land.  We are fortunate to be able to support a multitude of Indigenous-led projects across Alberta -  projects like the Blood Tribe Nation’s Kainais’ skahkoyii Range Guide and Invasive Monitoring Program, the Siksika Nation’s shelterbelt project, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s capacity building program for Indigenous-led conservation, these being just a few examples.

However, efforts to support Indigenous-led conservation are not without challenges. Indigenous communities in Alberta face systemic barriers, including historical marginalization, limited access to funding and resources, and jurisdictional complexities that impede their ability to exercise self-determination over their lands. Moreover, the pressures of resource extraction, industrial development, and climate change pose ongoing threats to Indigenous territories and traditional ways of life, exacerbating the urgency of conservation efforts.  Alberta Ecotrust is committed to addressing these challenges directly by supporting Indigenous communities and their allies to do this work.

As we confront these challenges, Indigenous Peoples' Day serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience, strength, and enduring connections of Indigenous peoples to the land. It is a time to honour Indigenous knowledge, celebrate cultural diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to meaningful reconciliation. By elevating Indigenous-led conservation, we not only protect Alberta's landscapes for future generations but also uphold Indigenous rights, promote environmental justice, and cultivate a more sustainable and inclusive society.

Supporting Indigenous-led conservation in Alberta is not just about protecting the land; it's about Indigenous sovereignty, revitalizing cultural traditions, and building equitable partnerships based on mutual respect and collaboration. Together, let us stand with Indigenous communities as we work towards a future where landscapes thrive, cultures flourish, and all beings live in harmony with the natural world.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Indigenous Peoples' Day.

For more information, please contact:

Lori Rissling Wynn

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation