The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes recommendations released today by an Indigenous-led committee that promise to encourage the establishment of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (ICPAs) in Canada and help meet Canada’s international biodiversity conservation commitments.

“These recommendations by the Indigenous Circle of Experts are a re-affirmation of the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ cultural connection to the land and sea and the need to strengthen traditional custodial relationships between Indigenous Peoples and their territories that have existed for thousands of years,” said Foundation senior marine planning specialist Kim Wright.

IPCAs are lands and waters where Indigenous governments have a primary role in protecting and conserving culture and ecosystems through Indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. The Indigenous Circle of Experts was tasked with advising Canada on new ways to meet international conservation goals to protect at least 17 per cent of land and inland waters and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

The Foundation supports recommendations that call for a more holistic approach to biodiversity conservation that integrates terrestrial and marine areas governance based on recognition of rights and interests through respect, cooperation and partnership. Canada has an opportunity to benefit from Indigenous laws and protocols, with the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples, in governance of protected areas in traditional territories throughout the country.

“These recommendations are an important first step, but Canada must do more to support Indigenous Peoples in securing their territories against threats to biodiversity and cultural traditions,” Wright said. “Canada’s approach will require respect and recognition of the unique needs, priorities and perspectives of each of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.”

“We look forward to continuing work with Indigenous communities to support opportunities emerging from the Indigenous Circle of Experts’ recommendations,” said Foundation Ontario science projects manager Rachel Plotkin. “Canada’s biodiversity will benefit from the traditional ecological knowledge Indigenous Peoples have used to successfully steward their territories over thousands of years.”

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna stated in March 2017 that IPCAs will be part of Canada’s efforts to meet protected-area targets.

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Read the complete We Rise Together report.

For more information, please contact:

Kim Wright,, 604-830-8611 – B.C.

Rachel Plotkin,, 416-799-8435 – Ontario