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A successful second edition for our event Around the River 2024

26 February 2024

Last week was the second edition of our event Around the River 2024. From February 20 to 22, we gathered in Carleton-sur-Mer, Gespe’gewa’gi, to share, exchange and network on a variety of issues affecting the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The event addressed three main themes: marine spatial planning, marine conservation tools and future actions for First Nations.

A total of 65 participants, including Chiefs, elected officials and other First Nations representatives from the 13 coastal communities of the Innu, Mi’gmaq, Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk and Huron-Wendat Nations took part in the event.

Our speakers from Quebec’s First Nations communities and organizations, including Pessamit, MWIFMA and Pêcheries Shipek Ekuanitshit, generously shared their experiences of marine conservation and planning (MCP) projects. We were also treated to a presentation on Indigenous knowledge systems by Kenneth Paul of New Brunswick’s Wolastoqey Nation.

Integrating diverse knowledge systems requires humility, respect, and open dialogue, acknowledging differences and finding common ground.

Kenneth PaulOwner of Pokiok Associates and Chief Fisheries Negotiator and Research Coordinator for the Wolastoqey Nation, New Brunswick

We were also honoured to welcome Chief John Powell of the Mamalilikulla First Nation in British Columbia, who shared with us the experience of the Mamalilikulla Gwaxdlala Nalaxdlala Indigenous Conservation and Protected Area and inspired us:

Don't give up, you have an opportunity in Quebec. You don't have the same opportunities around legislation [...] than we have in British Columbia and there's a lot of other factors that don't exist in Quebec that do exist in British Columbia, but they exist because someone fought for them.

[...] I challenge you to challenge the government to meet the needs of your community, and I would suggest that partnerships and relationships are the way to get there.

[...] you are better as a collectives than you'll ever be alone. But we're all better as a collective than we'll ever be alone.

John PowellChief of the Mamalilikulla First Nation in British Columbia

Chief Powell also sat on the panel on Indigenous rights and governance in marine conservation as an Indigenous expert, accompanied by Kenneth Paul of the Wolastoqey Nation of New Brunswick, Francis Bouchard of the MELCCF, Laura Wilmot, legal analyst (FNQLSDI), and Alain Guitar – Director DPCM (DFO).

Representatives from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) were also on hand to give a presentation on marine Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas (IPCAs).

The event also brought together members of the Canadian and Quebec governments. The Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) team from the Quebec Region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was on hand to present an update on MSP and host a workshop on collaborative governance. DFO’s marine conservation team presented an update on marine conservation in Quebec and discussed First Nations priorities. This event is one of the many activities of the First Nations Marine Territory Planning and Conservation project. This project is funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Oceans Management Contribution Program.

The final day focused on the future, and the communities present were asked to reflect, through a fun and creative activity, on potential projects that could be carried out in the coming years to make their community shine.

We really appreciate events like Around the River. It brings people together and allows face-to-face meetings and discussions with people we wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to bring together.

Sandra AutefProject Manager, Mi'gmaq and Wolastoqey Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association (AGHAMW)

Our guests enjoyed a surprise activity in Gesgapegiag, featuring Mi’gmaq culture. As well as generating interesting conversations in a more relaxed setting, everyone was able to learn more and create their own dream catcher or black ash basket.

We would like to thank all those who took part in this event for their presence and for sharing their thoughts. Special thanks to Kenneth Paul – Owner of Pokiok Associates and Chief Fisheries Negotiator and Research Coordinator for the Wolastoqey Nation, New Brunswick, to Majoric Pinette – Fisheries Coordinator, Conseil des Innus de Pessamit, Jacob Nolet-Deschesnaux – Marine Spatial Planning Project Manager, and Sandra Autef – Project Manager, Project Manager, Mi’gmaq Wolastoqey Indigenous Fisheries Management Association (MWIFMA) and Amélie Jomphe – FSC Fishing Technician (Pêcheries Shipek, Ekuanitshit) (Pêcheries Shipek, Ekuanitshit).

Thanks to Chief John Powell – Chief Councillor (Winidi) of the Mamalilikula First Nation in British Columbia and other panelists on Indigenous rights and governance in marine conservation.

Thanks also to the members of DFO’s MSP-Quebec Region team, especially Samuel Turgeon – Interim MSP Team Leader, Patricia Glaz – Senior MSP Biologist, Olivier Parent – Senior MSP Analyst, Rachelle Beaulieu – MSP Biologist, and to the members of DFO’s Marine Conservation team, Jacinthe Beauchamp – Marine Conservation Team Leader, Arianne Savoie – Senior Marine Conservation Biologist and Sonia Robert – Marine Conservation Biologist. Thanks also to Francis Bouchard – Directeur principal des aires protégées, Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP).

Thanks to Pn’nal Bernard Jerome, language and heritage for Gesgapegiag for the opening ceremony.

Thanks to Wanli Ou – Special Advisor and Magena Warrior – Water Policy Analyst at the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

Thanks to Marie-Ève D’amour, graphic designer, for graphic facilitation during the event.

And finally, thanks to Marina Gedeon and Stephen Jerome, who treated our guests to a surprise Mi’gmaq cultural activity in Gesgapegiag.