Background

Lake Winnipeg is the world’s tenth largest lake, with a watershed that spans two countries, four provinces, four states, and over 100 indigenous nations. Because of excess phosphorus loading from human activity across this vast transboundary watershed, Lake Winnipeg is one of the most eutrophic large lakes in the world. In 2013, Lake Winnipeg was designated Threatened Lake of the Year by the Global Nature Fund. Economically, Lake Winnipeg’s deteriorating health jeopardizes its significant fishery and tourism industries and has reduced property values. Ecologically, eutrophication has affected the resilience of the lake’s food chain and could have far-reaching detrimental effects on biodiversity. Socially, toxic blue green algae blooms limit access to water for cultural and traditional activities, reduce drinking water quality, and could significantly impact the environmental health of local fishing communities if toxins accumulate in fish.

Goal

Facilitate the inclusion of indigenous perspectives in developing solutions for Lake Winnipeg.

Main Activities

Facilitation and support: facilitate engagement and capacity-building among Lake Winnipeg’s indigenous communities and support emerging monitoring and policy priorities.

Results

This project will enable the inclusion of the unique and often marginalized perspectives of indigenous peoples, to inform the stewardship approaches of allied partner organizations. Opportunities will be created for the emergence of a consensus-based First Nation-led initiative to protect Lake Winnipeg. Outcomes are not prescribed, but may include: an indigenous community-based monitoring network; a process to document indigenous knowledge of the lake; development of lake-health indicators as defined by indigenous communities; formation of an indigenous advisory body to inform meaningful policy; etc.

Other Organizations Involved

LWF is partnering with the following organizations: Ducks Unlimited Canada; Manitoba Conservation Districts Association; Manitoba Eco-Network; Canadian Boreal Initiative; Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Manitoba Environmental Industries Association; Watershed Systems Research Program—University of Manitoba; Living Lakes Canada; Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources; and the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council.

LWF will build further relationships with: Red River College Office of Applied Research; International Institute for Sustainable Development; University of Winnipeg; the Manitoba Water and Wastewater Association; the Red River Basin Commission; the Forum for Leadership on Water; and indigenous communities around Lake Winnipeg.