By Ron Thiessen
Source: Winnipeg Free Press - Letters to the Editor
Re: Province providing funds for east side land use plans (Aug. 20)
I was delighted to read the Manitoba government is starting to make good on its long overdue commitment to support First Nations on the east side of Lake Winnipeg in producing community lands management plans.
Half a million dollars is a beginning, but significantly more funding will be required for the 16 First Nations to undertake planning efforts that include scientific and traditional knowledge studies.
Now is a good time to remind the Manitoba government of the principles of the East Side Planning Initiative (now known as Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin). In short, they are to maintain the ecological integrity of the boreal forest, respect and advance the needs of local First Nations, and ensure treaty rights are upheld.
Manitobans are waiting for Gary Doer to give them certainty that conservation and communities will come first in all planning on the east side of Lake Winnipeg — the heart of the world’s largest intact boreal forest. He can earn this confidence by immediately granting outstanding local First Nation land protection requests as well as providing official assurance that conservation and community driven land-use planning will be completed before considering new or expanded industrial developments such as logging and mining.