Update: Wild Rice Consultations
Parks Canada began official consultation with the Williams Treaties First Nations regarding wild rice harvesting in the fall of 2015. To date, we have developed a draft Terms of Reference to govern the consultations. Discussions with the First Nations have been very productive.
Parks Canada is aware that wild rice is present in different areas of the Trent-Severn Waterway, and therefore the scope of these on-going discussions could expand to include other parts of the waterway as necessary. At this time, the lakes being considered include Pigeon Lake, Rice Lake, Chemong Lake, and Buckhorn Lake.
Through consultation with the First Nations, and open dialogue with shoreline property owners and communities, Parks Canada hopes to build a better understanding of the environmental, recreational, and economic impacts of wild rice and its harvest, including the culturally significant and spiritual importance to First Nations. Parks Canada appreciates the on-going support of the Williams Treaties First Nations, the municipalities, federal and provincial partners, the conservation authorities and the shoreline property owners, all of whom are working with us to find a balanced approach to the management of wild rice on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
A series of regular meetings is scheduled with the Williams Treaties First Nations (Wild Rice) Working Group throughout the spring. Current focus is on the environmental aspects of wild rice, and determining if scientific research is required to support the on-going discussions.
Trent-Severn Waterway, Parks Canada meets with Williams Treaty First Nations Representatives
Parks Canada recognizes the importance of wild rice to the First Nations peoples for food, ceremonial and spiritual and medicinal purposes, and to wildlife as a valuable food resource.
On July 24, 2015, Parks Canada issued a one-time permit to allow for the limited removal of aquatic vegetation to provide local residents of Pigeon Lake with the ability to safely navigate from the shoreline to the main channel in Pigeon Lake.
Parks Canada has a duty to consult with the Williams Treaties First Nations regarding activities impacting wild rice beds on the Trent-Severn Waterway. However, this did not occur in this situation. Parks Canada immediately obtained the cooperation of the permit holder to cease the removal of the wild rice.
On August 28, 2015, Parks Canada officials met with representatives of the Williams Treaty First Nations to discuss the permit that was issued to local residents on Pigeon Lake, Trent-Severn Waterway to remove aquatic vegetation, specifically wild rice. Initial discussions were productive and the parties will begin formal consultations. The first steps are the immediate cancellation of the aquatic vegetation removal permit and the creation of a working group.
Parks Canada is committed to working with the Williams Treaties First Nations to ensure that appropriate consultations occur regarding the issuance of permits regarding wild rice.