Narrowing the Road: Co-Management with Anishnabe at the Riding Mountain National Park (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

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"'Parks and protected areas are very much part of the socioeconomic region in which they are located'. From a preconceptual perspective, however, parks and protected areas are established in areas with existing socioeconomic characteristics that should reflect the nature, values and needs of local communities. Past efforts to establish national parks in Canada did not focus on the intimate relationship between Aboriginal traditional land use and the resultant socioeconomic health and well-being that would potentially be impacted when common property territorial lands became designated as protected areas under the earlier or more current versions of the National Parks Act. Consequently, these impacts were, and often continue to be, unmitigated. "This essay is focused on Aboriginal communities adjacent to Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP), a protected area located in the south-western corner of Canada's centrally-located province of Manitoba. Background on the historic approach to establishment and management of Canada's first national park at Banff, Alberta, and RMNP is provided to assist the reader to understand the resulting implications to Canada's Aboriginal peoples. Preliminary results of on-going research for two Aboriginal communities adjacent to RMNP are presented that capture the historic relationship to the lands now integrated within the boundaries of this protected area. From this review, it will be shown that the impacts from establishing RMNP have resulted in adverse change over time to the communities' social, cultural, and economic sustainability through subsequent loss of access to their common property territorial landscape. Parks Canada (the responsible regulatory agency for national parks), through amendments to current regulatory and management practices, are challenged to be more responsive to the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal communities left impaired from national park establishment and without recourse through outstanding land claims."
IASC, parks, protected areas, indigenous institutions, common pool resources, traditional resource management, mountain regions, land tenure and use, community participation