Whitefeather Forest Initiative

Customary Land Uses

As they guide the development of the Whitefeather Forest Initiative, Pikangikum Elders continue to teach that we are people of the forest. We must always cherish all living ones who live with us on our lands. We must always cherish the smallest critter to the largest moose and the smallest medicinal plant to the tallest tree.

The resource stewardship tradition of Pikangikum is based on respect. We are to respect the way the Creator made all living ones on our land and the freedom they have been given to exist on the land so they can flourish. They must continue to be free to roam over the land as the Creator made them.

Moose and caribou, birch and jackpine, muskrats and beaver, ducks and geese, sturgeon and whitefish – these and many other living ones have always given us sustenance and livelihood. Our deep relationships with all living ones on our land, is reflected in our clan system – doodemahk. There are seven clans at Pikangikum including moose and sturgeon.

In our culture, harvesting is central to maintaining our forest. If we harvest our resources in the ways taught to us by our ancestors, they give themselves to us for our survival and livelihood. If we were to stop harvesting our resources, they would begin to disappear. This is why Pikangikum Elders say we must continue our traditions of hunting, fishing and gathering in accordance with our customs that have been handed down to us. This is our resource stewardship tradition.

Even when we have undertaken resource management activities to increase the abundance and diversity of our land we have followed this tradition. When our ancestors brought Manomin (wild rice) into our waters or when they used fire to increase food for animals, they always respected their responsibility to carry out these practices in a way that respected the freedom of the living ones they were supporting. We have continued these practices of respect to this day.

We have always relied on our land to provide for us. It is not the intention of the Whitefeather Forest Initiative to displace customary pursuits with new livelihood pursuits. These pursuits, such as trapping, hunting and fishing, and the way we engage in them, will continue to be central to our relationship to the land. We will continue to keep our forest. This is set out in our Keeping the Land strategy:

Vision for Customary Land Uses:
Maintain the practice of deeply rooted and culturally vital customary livelihood activities – including but not limited to hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering and craft making – in a manner that nurtures the cultural identity and well-being of Beekahncheekahmeeng Paymahteeseewahch and supports the maintenance of an Indigenous Knowledge tradition of the land that will make a vital contribution to contemporary resource management in the Planning Area [Whitefeather Forest].


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The Whitefeather Forest lies within ancestral lands of the people of Pikangikum First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

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Keeping the Land
A Land Use Strategy for the Whitefeather... Read More »

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