© Hannah Polaczek WWF working with Indigenous partners

Indigenous-led conservation

First Nations, Inuit and Métis are essential partners in realizing our mission.

Our Commitment to Collaboration with Indigenous Partners

We believe that Indigenous-led conservation is the most effective, equitable and efficient way to safeguard the nature that all of us hold dear. Our work has evolved over time to be more inclusive and, where possible, led by Indigenous partners, and we commit to more of this collaboration in the future.

© Brandon Laforest team meeting

Our Approach

Partnering with First Nations, Métis and Inuit in their traditional lands and waters, Indigenous-led conservation supports and embraces Indigenous Knowledge, sovereignty and governance while focusing on the specific needs of local communities and nations. After all, these communities are the experts who’ve been stewarding these lands and waters since time immemorial. Their leadership is crucial to conserving wildlife and habitat as well as advancing reconciliation and ensuring economic stability and food security.

As we move forward with our new 10-year strategic plan, we are committed to working according to Indigenous Guidance and Knowledge, including partnering with and supporting Indigenous communities where and when requested. This approach is essential to conserving and restoring ecosystems, reversing wildlife loss and fighting climate change with nature.

Indigenous-Led Partnerships and Projects

WWF-Canada supports programs like Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and Inuit Protected and Managed Areas. We partner with Indigenous communities and groups to advocate for common concerns and achieve shared goals. On the West Coast, we’ve successfully assisted Katzie First Nation in restoring a damaged Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Upper Pitt River’s Blue Creek. Currently, we’re collaborating with Gitga’at First Nation in the Great Bear Rainforest on an acoustic monitoring project to reduce the impacts of shipping traffic on humpback whales, fin whales and orca. And on the East Coast, WWF-Canada supports Maliseet efforts in creating a management framework for the threatened Wolastoq (Saint John River) watershed.

WWF-Canada has provided training to Guardians programs with the Kaska Nation to protect the Liard River, which flows through B.C., Yukon and Northwest Territories. And we partner with Inuit communities across the country to protect dwindling caribou herds and their habitat and other threatened Arctic species.

We work with Indigenous communities on conservation research projects. Together, we aim to combine scientific and Indigenous knowledge to find solutions to the most pressing environmental problems. For example, our initial research on the Last Ice Area, where climate scientists project sea ice will persist the longest in our warming world, helped provide a foundation for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to negotiate critical protections for Tuvaijuittuq, a Marine Protected Area larger than Labrador. Tuvaijuittuq is now a future climate refuge for ice-dependent species and economically benefits local communities. To ensure we’re supporting shared goals, we’ve also invested in opinion polling across the north on issues such as protecting caribou calving grounds and offshore oil and gas drilling.

WWF-Canada believes that recognizing the rights, territories, law and culture of Indigenous people is crucial to delivering inclusive and sustainable development and moving toward reconciliation.