Presented by: Paula Bentham

Input from Indigenous communities into restoration programs is critical, yet such input is often sought after planning is complete. In contrast, we present a case study of a partnership approach to habitat restoration planning. In 2021, Fort McKay First Nation (FMFN), Golder, and Al-Pac partnered to develop restoration plans for ~1600km of seismic lines within the Red Earth Caribou Range. This area overlaps with the traditional territories of the FMFN, McMurray Métis (Local #1935) and Fort McKay Métis Nation; importantly, it also includes the Moose Lake 10KM Management Zone extending from FMFN’s Moose Lake reserves as identified in the Moose Lake Access Management Plan (MLAMP). Given the significant cultural importance of this area, restoration requires close collaboration to design a plan that reflects the ecological, cultural, and spiritual significance of the area for current and future traditional use.

Early engagement with ongoing communication was of utmost importance to ensure input and local knowledge was used in an iterative process to inform the plan. Land knowledge holders provided inputs through a series of workshops, mapping exercises and field reconnaissance. The Project provided an opportunity to advance both the goals of restoration as well as goals of the MLAMP, including incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge and recognizes rights and interests across the area. The partnership approach was critical; having FMFN lead engagement facilitated frequent, repeated, and culturally appropriate engagement with land users including Elders, knowledge holders, land users, trappers and leadership. The plan could not have been completed without their expert knowledge.