In September 2021, Moose Cree re-affirmed its longstanding commitment to protect the watershed. Wildlands League has been working with Moose Cree First Nation to permanently protect the North French River located in northeastern Ontario for a number of years.
In 2019, the watershed project was approved for funding by the Government of Canada under its Nature Fund Challenge projects. Due to COVID-19, the project has been extended to March 2022.
Starting approximately 80 km northeast of Cochrane, the North French River or Kah-pana-yow Sibi in Cree, meaning the river that widens, flows 280 km through the Canadian Shield towards James Bay. It is 660,000 ha with 151,000 ha already protected through a conservation reserve. The remaining 515,000 ha is still open to development. Its full protection would make a large contribution to Ontario and Canada achieving the 25% protection of lands and freshwaters by 2025 and is consistent with the objective of reconciliation.
To see a map of area, click here
Protecting the North French River is of paramount importance to the Moose Cree people and to Canadians. The North French is one of the last sources of clean drinking water for this part of the province. You can still drink water directly from the river. The area contains intact boreal forests and wetlands that provide critical habitat for threatened boreal caribou, migratory birds and aquatic species such as brook trout. It also holds sensitive wetlands (of the Hudson Bay Lowland) that act as a giant carbon sink for the planet. They need to be maintained in order to help meet international climate commitments.
The province needs to stop all industrial activities in the North French River. A conservation reserve already exists in the North French River watershed protecting ~151,00 ha but the remaining 515,000 ha is still open to mining, forestry and other resource pressures. A land withdrawal (halt to mining) must happen immediately to get the process going and then full discussions with Moose Cree to create an Indigenous Protected Area here.
See Toronto Star Editorial supporting call for protection of North French River.