An uncommon vision of a shared forest economy
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News from Ecotrust Canada

Guardians on the Land


Nearly a century ago, some of the First Nations of Ontario’s Northeast Superior Region were removed from their traditional homelands to make way for guide outfitting businesses, large mammal conservation, and timber harvesting.

This summer we painted a vastly different picture of this place: assisting First Nations Guardians in collecting data and reasserting their stewardship interests in the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. The Northeast Superior Guardian program teamed First Nations technicians and Elders to gather information and share their knowledge of the land.

It’s all part of a joint project between First Nations, the forest industry, and federal, provincial, and municipal governments to build new economic opportunities centered on sustainable forest management. From timber to mushrooms, tourism to berries, we’re helping explore the many ways forestland resources can create value for adjacent communities.

Through workshops and negotiations, Ecotrust Canada staff helped diverse groups form an uncommon vision of an alternative forest economy. This year, that vision started to become reality – and we couldn’t be more excited.


From daily crew check-ins to ongoing tech support, Charles Fritz has played a major role in helping the Guardian Program from afar. Weaving the Guardians’ data into maps and reports, his work will support later phases of business development and forest management in the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. “The Guardian Program is important because it provides jobs to people in the region, with the goal of creating even more jobs in the future.”

"Through this project, the Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs’ Forum is becoming a major decision-maker for the future of the region."


Meaningful community engagement, creative solutions – for us, these are common refrains. So it’s easy to see why we’re thrilled to see planning initiatives like this one embracing engagement, planning towards adjacent community benefits from the use of Canada’s abundant natural resources, and recognizing the need for economic reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

As the country grapples with big questions like rural involvement in the global economy, this work represents an important signpost about what is possible.

Though it’s halfway across the country, our work in Ontario sort of feels like being taken back to where we began. Ecotrust Canada was founded in 1995 to give communities the tools to participate effectively in the decision-making that affects them.

Today, as our 20th anniversary year draws to a close, it’s good to know that we’re still here and just as committed as ever – designing economic alternatives that benefit people in the places they call home.


With thanks,

Brenda Kuecks, President