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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.

NORQUAY, SK, Feb. 1, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ - 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. 


"Repatriation of bison is the true cultural revitalization piece for our Anishinaabe people immediately creating unity and togetherness within the community chi-miigwech."

Christopher Gareau
Councillor for The Key First Nation

"Our Government has made it a key commitment to support wildlife conservation efforts and the recovery of threatened species, like bison. Plains bison are an iconic keystone species of the Great Plains and their importance to the cultural, economic and spiritual heritage for The Key First Nation and other Indigenous groups of the Prairies cannot be overstated. It is truly an honour to help this majestic animal survive and thrive once again, and restore this vital cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples of the Northern Great Plains."

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

"The near extinction of plains bison was a devastating loss for Indigenous peoples across the Great Northern Plains. This collaboration with The Key First Nation to return plains bison to their land is a positive example of Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples working together and taking important steps toward conserving natural and cultural heritage, and sharing the stories of this majestic animal."

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"Indigenous peoples of North America lived alongside bison for thousands of years, and in many Indigenous cultures, bison and humans are inextricably linked. The grazing patterns of bison also help shape the vegetation composition, ecosystem function and structure of the Prairies. Partnerships with Indigenous communities are a vital part of NCC's work as a land conservation organization. We strive to ensure that collaborating with Indigenous peoples becomes a routine part of our conservation work. We are honoured to help establish a plains bison herd for The Key First Nation."

Jennifer McKillop
Saskatchewan Regional Vice-President for Nature Conservancy of Canada

Quick Facts

Related Documents

Parks Canada Backgrounder: Plains Bison Herd Establishment for The Key First Nation 
Nature Conservancy of Canada Backgrounder: Partnership between The Nature Conservancy of Canada and The Key First Nation 

Related Links

SOURCE Parks Canada

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