The Stewards of Wabano Aki and community members at the Wabano Aki sign unveiling in MB

The Stewards of Wabano Aki and community members at the Wabano Aki sign unveiling in MB

Wabano Aki - Tomorrows Land

L-R: Kevin Teneycke, Gordon Beddome, Ken Norquay and Josh Dillabough at Wabano Aki (Photo by Fayaz Hasan / NCC Staff)

L-R: Kevin Teneycke, Gordon Beddome, Ken Norquay and Josh Dillabough at Wabano Aki (Photo by Fayaz Hasan / NCC Staff)

Not far from Brandon, Manitoba, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff are working alongside community members to advance Reconciliation and make a difference for nature. Together with local Anishinaabe representatives and the Beddome family, NCC is jointly stewarding and monitoring 305 hectares on the banks of the Assiniboine River, south of Shilo. In late summer of 2023, the group gathered to celebrate partnership and the renaming of the project property.

The area is important culturally, agriculturally and for biodiversity conservation. Located near an area known as Waggle Springs, the land has been named Wabano Aki following a naming ceremony with Elder Roddy McKay, Anishinaabe cultural support worker Ken Norquay, Gordon Beddome and NCC, collectively known as the Stewards of Wabano Aki. During the process, all parties shared their experiences, stories and understandings of how to live in relationship with the land. In Anishinaabemowin, Wabano Aki translates to Tomorrows Land.   

The land supports freshwater springs, mixed-grass prairie, wetlands and forest habitats. The property is an important home for many wildlife and plant species, including northern leopard frog and round leaf monkey flower, and at-risk birds, such as Sprague’s pipit and eastern wood-pewee.

Over the past five years, the groups have worked together to build relations, trust and understanding. NCC wants to respectfully accommodate and honour the traditions of the Anishinaabe peoples. The project is a testament to the whole-of-society approach necessary to address the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Collectively, the Stewards of Wabano Aki all are working to conserve the land and species that grow and live there, hand in hand with the human community that depends on it, sustainably into the future. The Stewards will continue to embrace agriculture, conservation and ceremonial purposes on the land. A plan for managing the property includes collaborative approaches to access and different uses of the lands and traditional Indigenous Knowledge and practices as well as best conservation science. Portions of the property are also being leased by one of the previous landowners and other renters for grazing cattle and goats.

Community relations is a critical element of our work. We are honoured to collaborate on the joint use of the land, and how the relationship can move forward in the spirit of Reconciliation, and use both Indigenous ways and western science to monitor and manage the land and species. We are all one people and have an obligation to work together. This project is a model on how to increase opportunities for sharing of knowledge, shared land use for cultural and educational opportunities and care of the land and species.

- Josh Dillabough, natural area manager, Nature Conservancy of Canada in Manitoba

Quick Facts

Location: southeast of Brandon MB, near Shilo
Size: 305 hectaries
Habitat: mixed-grass prairie, riparian forest, freshwater springs
Species: Sprague's pipit, round leaf monkey flower

When nature thrives, we thrive

Indigenous Peoples have cared for the natural areas, plants and wildlife that have sustained them for millennia. NCC has much to learn from Indigenous Peoples across Canada to help us to become better land managers and conservationists. NCC, as a leading conservation organization, also has a unique opportunity to assist Indigenous communities and Nations in achieving their conservation and stewardship goals.

We believe that through partnership we can achieve great things. Together, we can work to restore and conserve the natural environment that we collectively value.

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