Caribou, Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation

Caribou once roamed across half of Canada. Today, this iconic species has disappeared from its southern ranges and is edging closer to the brink of extinction. The protection of caribou goes beyond saving one species. It means protecting the integrity of the boreal forest ecosystem and stifling biodiversity loss. It means the recognition of Indigenous rights and the profound role of caribou in Indigenous culture, spirituality and livelihood. Despite the many reasons to protect caribou, the Government of Quebec has postponed their caribou recovery plan until 2023. The lack of action to protect this dwindling endangered species is an example of the intersectionality between biodiversity and reconciliation. The consequences of this postponement will weigh more heavily on Indigenous communities who rely on caribou. If the Government of Quebec is committed to reconciliation, it must start with protecting its woodland caribou herds, listening to Indigenous voices, valuing their multi-generational knowledge of the land and allowing Indigenous Peoples to lead conservation efforts.

Photo by Jillian Cooper from Getty Images/Canva

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