Ontario Partnering with Indigenous Leaders to Protect the Great Lakes

Province investing in projects supporting Indigenous communities and youth to improve the health of the Great Lakes

April 13, 2023

Environment, Conservation and Parks

Table of Contents

  1. Content
  2. Quick Facts
  4. Additional Resources
  5. Related Topics

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing nearly $1 million to support Indigenous-led projects and increased collaboration with Indigenous organizations and youth to help protect and restore the Great Lakes.

David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, made the announcement today at the seventh annual meeting of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council, which Ontario co-chaired with Anishinabek Nation.

“Our government is proud to support Indigenous-led projects that are engaging First Nations youth to help protect the Thames River and make eating fish along the northern shores of Lake Superior safer for local First Nations and Métis communities,” said Minister Piccini. “Working together, we will continue to protect, conserve and restore the health of the Great Lakes and support the well-being of communities that rely on them now and for generations to come.”

Six First Nations communities are receiving a combined $150,000 in funding to lead projects to engage youth in learning how to protect, conserve and restore the health of the Thames River.

One Métis community and four First Nations community projects in the Lake Superior Basin are receiving a combined $66,500 in funding to lead projects that will provide important information for assessing fish consumption concerns in Areas of Concern in Lake Superior.

Métis Nation of Ontario, Chiefs of Ontario and Anishinabek Nation will receive $780,400 in funding to enable First Nations and Métis communities to take a more active and collaborative role in the design, development and implementation of Great Lakes protection and restoration efforts. These 14 projects will also support the delivery of commitments in the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.

“We value the opinions and expertise of Indigenous organizations, and we are taking action so that youth involvement will lead to better and safer lakes,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “By making investments in Indigenous-led projects that are geared towards protecting the Great Lakes, our government is ensuring their integrity while increasing Indigenous economic participation.”

The funding is part of the Ontario government’s $14 million in investments annually to further protect, conserve and restore the health of the Great Lakes and support the well-being of communities that rely on them.

Quick Facts

  • The Great Lakes Guardians’ Council, established under the Great Lakes Protection Act, provides a forum to identify and find solutions to Great Lakes challenges, working with First Nations and Métis communities by acknowledging traditional knowledge, and strengthen our shared understanding of the Great Lakes.
  • Twenty per cent of the world’s fresh surface water is found in the Great Lakes, making it the largest lake system in the world.
  • Ontario’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River shoreline is the longest freshwater coastline in the world measuring 10,000 kilometres, which is greater than the length of the US-Canada border and almost equivalent to travelling one quarter of the way around the planet.


“Nibi (water) has always been more than an element to Anishinaabe peoples. It is a life-giving entity that we rely on to survive. We all have the responsibility to preserve and care for the water. The Great Lakes are particularly important as millions of us, cross-border, are reliant on them for our daily needs. We commend the commitment of the Ministry to extend this project based initiative which will continue to benefit the Anishinabek Nation in our outreach and education efforts regarding conservation and protection.”

– Reginald Niganobe
Grand Council Chief of Anishinabek Nation

“The funding from MECP will enable Pays Plat FN to create a fisheries consumption report for the Jackfish Bay Area of Concern (in recovery) on Lake Superior. This report will incorporate Pays Plat’s fishing practices, priorities, and perspectives to create a unique document geared to First Nations communities. This project will promote Traditional Knowledge and western science as learning opportunities to protect Lake Superior.”

– David Mushquash
Chief of Pays Plat First Nation

Additional Resources

Related Topics

Environment and Energy

Learn more about how Ontario protects and restores wildlife and the environment. Includes information on conservation and the electricity system. Learn more