Cat Lake/ Slate Falls Land Use Planning 

“Niigaan Bimaadiziwin” – A Future Life

Cat Lake Slate Falls Land Use Plan.jpg

A Message From Delford Mitchell, Slate Falls Nation Land Use Coordinator

Hello, this is your Community Land Use Coordinator for Slate Falls, Delford Mitchell and I am part of the planning team for the Cat Lake-Slate Falls Community Based Land Use Plan. The Cat Lake-Slate Falls Community Based Land Use Plan is the result of years of planning starting in the early 2000’s. Cat Lake First Nation, Slate Falls Nation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources worked in partnership to prepare the plan. The plan is approved by both First Nations and the Government of Ontario, under the Far North Act 2010. The partners will now move forward to implement the plan and enable opportunities for environmentally sustainable economic development, including a new forest management opportunity.

The plan addresses a 1.5 million hectare area, encompassing a portion of the communities' traditional territories in the Far North of Ontario. The plan conveys an understanding of Cat Lake and Slate Falls First Nation people's relationship to the land as a primary context for decision making. The land use plan articulates Cat Lake and Slate Falls' vision to support the well-being of future generations by affirming an ongoing relationship with the land and continuation of ancestral stewardship responsibilities. The plan establishes goals and objectives for planning which address cultural, social, environment and economic interests, including the Far North Act 2010 objectives for planning. The economic development objective speaks to defining opportunities that will benefit the First Nations.

 A catalyst for planning was a potential forestry opportunity, but all potential opportunities in the planning area have been considered such as beneficial mining agreements and tourism opportunities. A community-led Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) data collection program which started in the 2000’s supported planning. Many of our community Elders and community members contributed their knowledge and experiences to this project and for that I am thankful.  In addition, Ontario assembled the most current information on natural resource values, watershed mapping, bedrock and surficial geology and mineral potential. Expert advisors provided guidance on climate change emerging directions and technology, species at risk protection and the consideration of cumulative impacts.

 The land use plan defines three land use areas, land use designations and permitted activities. The plan recognizes that proposals for specific activities will also be subject to any additional requirements that exist in policy, guidelines or legislation (e.g., environmental assessment). The Cat Lake-Slate Falls land use areas are:

 • a Dedicated Protected Area ( 495,833 hectares; 34% of the planning area*) with a focus on waterway protection, traditional use and tourism;

 • an Enhanced Management Area - cultural heritage category (369,311 hectares; 25% of the planning area), providing for all land uses with additional direction to protect special features/values; and

• a General Use Area (576,613 hectares; 40% of the planning area) providing for all land uses.

When developing the land use plan the biggest issue and concern was our water. Water and water systems are vital to all life, and inseparable from Cat Lake and Slate Falls peoples' spiritual and cultural existence. The footprint of our people existing in harmony on the land for centuries can be directly linked to the water, as affirmed through Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and teachings. Thus, the protection of water systems is a key focus for our land use plan which is why in our plan we used the dedicated protection area designation to protect 34% of our planning area.

 Our vision statement is:

“Cat Lake First Nation and Slate Falls Nation will maintain our ancestral stewardship responsibilities for the land that was given to us as a sacred gift from the Creator and pursue resource-based opportunities including forest management.”

 This vision expresses our intention to maintain the relationship to the land and to maintain the way of life in harmony with new land use activities. These new activities will be integrated with traditional land uses in a way that is guided by our traditional values and principles. This Community Based Land Use Plan and the communities’ goal is for a strong, sustainable, economic and vibrant future. Working together we can reach that goal. Any questions please feel free to ask.