Establishing an Indigenous-led National Marine Conservation Area will protect Weeneebeg (James Bay) and Washaybeyoh (Hudson Bay), our Cree people, our culture and the lands and waters that sustain all life, and our interconnected ecosystems for all future generations.

A globally distinct seascape that supports an abundance of life

Oceans North

Unique year-round population of beluga whales

David Cook/Wildscreen Exchange

Southernmost population of polar bears in the world

Amie MacDonald

Birthing place and a feeding grounds for millions of birds

Ron Ridout

Breathing lands: a huge carbon storage area helping to mitigate climate change

Wildlands League

Critical to Omushkego cultural and harvesting practices

Paula Menarick

One ecosystem: the waters, the lands and the Omushkego way of life

The Omushkego

The Omushkego (“the strong people” in English) live in the James Bay and Hudson Bay Lowlands and we were here long before Weeneebeg was called James Bay, long before Washaybeyoh was called Hudson Bay. The Omushkego Traditional Territories cover nearly a third of Ontario, including a large portion of southwestern Hudson Bay and western James Bay and their islands, surrounded by the carbon-rich peatlands.

As we have since time immemorial, still today, we find our well-being through the taking of food, medicines, water, fish, and animals. Omushkego have always known we are a part of Mother Earth and strive to live according to her natural laws.

“We have been the stewards of these lands and waters for millennia, and now we want to protect the coastal and marine ecosystems that underpin the Omushkego way of life for future generations.”


— Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, Mushkegowuk Council

Establishment of a National Marine Conservation Area

National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs) are protected areas established and managed by Parks Canada to protect and conserve examples of Canada’s natural and cultural marine heritage. By working with the Omushkego to establish an NMCA in our ancestral marine territory, Canada can help conserve biodiversity, reach its nature-protection targets and mitigate climate change while supporting Indigenous self-determination.

Judy Sutherland

Nation-to-nation Relationship

In August 2020, the Mushkegowuk Council Chiefs gave support for a nation-to-nation talk with the Government of Canada to formally work towards establishing an Omushkego-led NMCA in western James Bay and southwestern Hudson Bay.

JLH3Photography/Flickr Creative Commons

Community Engagement

Community engagement is at the heart of this project. Extensive consultation with all nine Mushkegowuk communities will take place in order to gather knowledge about the area, understand common uses and activities, and identify Omushkego conservation priorities.

Oceans North

Mushkegowuk Marine Task Force

The Mushkegowuk Marine Task Force (made up of Elders, youth and community members appointed by the respective Chiefs and Councils of the Mushkegowuk Council) will be guiding the planning process for establishing the NMCA.

JLH3Photography/Flickr Creative Commons

Community Coordinators

Hired Community Coordinators from each community will help facilitate their community engagement activities and assist with documenting Traditional Knowledge related to the marine and coastal environments.

Recent News

Government of Canada and Mushkegowuk Council working together to protect western James Bay

Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, the elected leader of the Mushkegowuk Council, signed…

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Globe and Mail: Leaders share their views on what’s important for the future of our oceans

Canadians typically know the ocean best as a source of food, resources, recreation and livelihoods. However, the ocean is also a crucial influencer of climate, weather, biodiversity and ecosystems.

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MC announces new Indigenous-led project to protect globally significant marine area

At a recent meeting of the Mushkegowuk Council a motion was endorsed by Mushkegowuk Chiefs to support Nation to Nation talks.

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On Aug. 9, 2021, a signing ceremony was held in Moose Factory for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Mushkegowuk Chiefs and Parks Canada to launch a feasibility assessment for the proposed National Marine Conservation Area in western James Bay and southwestern Hudson Bay.

The Mushkegowuk Council Lands & Resources Department launched a video to promote the Mushkegowuk Marine Conservation project. The video features the music and narration of Adrian Sutherland, and Midnight Shine performing the song “James Bay”! Protecting James Bay and Hudson Bay means we are protecting all life on Mother Earth.

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