Fisher River Cree Nation and environmentals renew plea for provincial park

Winnipeg, MB – The Fisher River Cree Nation and a leading environmental
organization are taking their campaign for a wilderness park to the
Manitoba legislature. The groups have appealed directly to elected
legislators and the NDP government to finish the job they started and
create a new provincial park.They hosted a press event on Tuesday, March 10, at the provincial legislature building.
 

“Ten years ago we asked Manitoba to protect a special place within
our traditional territory in Fisher Bay of Lake Winnipeg,” recalls
Chief David Crate of the Fisher River Cree. “We were full of hope that
we could soon safeguard our area and share our culture and beautiful
wilderness with the whole province.”

In response to that initiative, Manitoba established the Fisher Bay
Park Reserve which temporarily protects part of the area that the
Fisher River Cree nominated.

“We want to congratulate the government for taking a good step that
day,” says Crate. “But we are still waiting. We’re asking the province
to finish the job and create the Ochiwasahow (Fisher Bay) Provincial
Park with the larger boundaries that we are requesting.”

The project appears stalled, explains the leader of the Fisher River
Cree. The province has yet to do the studies and consultations required
to establish a park. Time is running out as the area’s protected status
will expire in 2010.

Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Manitoba chapter of the
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, shares Chief Crate’s impatience.
His group has been working with the Fisher River community to promote
the park.

The effort included a massive letter-writing campaign to Premier
Doer, which resulted in 10,000 letters of support from Manitobans of
all ages and interests. Politicians of all political stripes also came
out in favour of the park. They include Jon Gerrard, member of the
provincial legislature and Liberal leader; Conservative MP James Bezan,
who represents the Selkirk-Interlake riding which includes Fisher Bay;
and Bill Blaikie, former MP for the New Democratic Party, who is
seeking nomination for the Manitoba provincial riding of Elmwood.

“Manitobans know how fortunate we are to have one of the most
important ecological and cultural treasures in the province, just two
hours from Winnipeg,” Thiessen says. “It would be a crime if the
province misses this opportunity to permanently protect the Fisher Bay
region.”

View the Fisher Bay online report.

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