Canada – Mashkode-bizhiki | Plains bison herd successfully re-established to The Key First Nation in Saskatchewan

Through partnerships with Government of Canada and Nature Conservancy of Canada, a new plains bison herd has been established, renewing cultural, historical and ecological connections for Indigenous community, ensuring the survival and well-being of this iconic and majestic animal.

February 1, 2022                       Norquay, Saskatchewan

Parks Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) have made lasting contributions to wildlife conservation, collectively for over a century, including the recovery of threatened species, such as plains bison. Restoring threatened species to Indigenous communities is an important step on the pathway towards reconciliation.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Jennifer McKillop, Saskatchewan Regional Vice-President for Nature Conservancy of Canada, announced that 40 plains bison were successfully translocated to establish a new herd with The Key First Nation in Treaty 4. This marks a historic moment for The Key First Nation; a nation that has worked closely with Parks Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to return these culturally significant animals to their traditional lands.

Bison are an iconic symbol of the grasslands and, once numbered in the tens of millions, were relied upon as a staple part of the lives of Indigenous peoples. The near extinction of bison – culminating in the 1880s due to over-hunting – resulted in economic, spiritual and cultural devastation for Indigenous peoples on the Prairies. A total of 20 plains bison from Grasslands National Park and 20 from Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB) in Saskatchewan have been successfully translocated to The Key First Nation’s lands. With this transfer of animals, The Key First Nation, Parks Canada and NCC are working in collaboration toward the survival and well-being of these iconic and majestic animals.

Returning mashkode-bizhiki to The Key First Nation advances Indigenous-led conservation of a threatened species, including through Indigenous ecological knowledge, partnerships between nations and stakeholders, and improved cultural and socio-economic opportunities for the Anishinaabe people. 

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