Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin (WNO)

(English translation is “East Side of the Lake Governance”)

The stated objective of the WNO planning initiative is to bring together local communities, First Nations, industry and environmental organizations to develop a vision for land and resource use, in this area, that respects both the value of the boreal forests and the needs of local communities.

A landmark accord confirming a government-to-government relationship between the 16 Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin First Nation Governments and Government of Manitoba was signed, on April 3,, 2007.The accord reinforces the foundation for the most compressive traditional land use planning in this country.

The east side planning process began in July 2000, when Manitoba undertook preliminary discussions for the East Side Planning Initiative (ESPI), after accepting the Consultation on Sustainable Development Report (CDSDI). The report was the result of a multi-stakeholder consultation initiative “to consider and make recommendations to government on how Manitoba can best implement Sustainable Development Principles and Guidelines into decision-making, including environmental management, licensing, land use planning, and regulatory processes”.

The implementation of sustainable development through Broad Area Planning was recommended. The East Side of Lake Winnipeg was chosen as the pilot area for the planning process based on its vast expanse of undeveloped, contiguous, boreal forest and in recognition of the needs of remote First Nations communities for transportation and appropriate economic opportunities.

In 2002, the ESPI began meetings.

The East Side Round Table (ESRT) group was commissioned by Manitoba Conservation to develop a Broad Area Plan. This group was made up of 21 members from local communities, First Nations, Métis, industry, environmental and recreational organizations, and a First Nation Council, consisting of one Chief from each of the First Nations within the planning area. An East Side Advisory Committee, consisting of various stakeholder organizations, local governments, etc., was also assembled to provide input from their individual perspectives.

A status report was submitted to the Province, by this group. The status report, “Promises to Keep…” Towards a Broad Area Plan for the East Side of Lake Winnipeg, makes over 100 recommendations.

The ESRT was replaced by the East Side First Nations Council, consisting of 21 members: 16 East Side First Nation Chiefs or their designates, one representative from the Métis Nation government, or their designate, and four representatives nominated by the ESRT. The East Side First Nations Council later was renamed Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin (WNO).

An historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) was ultimately signed with First Nations on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. The MOU recognizes a government to government relationship between east side First Nations and the Province.

The WNO has directed that, while a Broad Area Plan continues to be developed, future planning should focus on the development of traditional area land use plans.