Pearl Lorentzen

Lakeside Leader

Slave Laker Walter Andreeff is very passionate about nature and wants local people to be involved in Canada’s policy-making around biodiversity.

From May 15 to July 14, 2023, Canadians can give feedback on early stages of the Canadian government’s plan on biodiversity. On May 15, the government released ‘Toward a 2030 Biodiversity Strategy for Canada: Halting and reversing nature loss.’

“There’s a real opportunity for us to provide information that comes from the heart,” says Andreeff.
“A lot of people who live in the boreal forest love nature,” he adds.

Many people who live in rural areas connected with nature through work in the forest product industry, oil and gas, etc. These same people also use nature for recreation – hunting, OHVing, fishing, boating, etc. or traditional Métis or First Nations practices such as hunting, gathering, and fishing.

The government document came out of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) which Andreeff attended as a panelist in in Montreal in December 2022.

At that international conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudea promised to protect 30 per cent of Canada’s land and water by 2030, says Andreeff.

The 24-page discussion paper is one of the first steps toward keeping that promise.

When it comes to protecting nature, some of it is done at the federal level and others are done by the provinces.

Citizens also have a responsibility, says Andreeff, to keep the governments accountable and remind it of its responsiblity to protect nature.

“They’re (the Canadian government) willing to put in many public dollars to protect our lands and waters,” says Andreeff, “because we (Canada) are a natural resource-dependent country.”

“It is simply a starting point to bring forward the full diversity of Canadian perspectives so we can build an ambitious and inclusive strategy,” says Toward a 2023 Biodiversity Strategy. Therefore it is an overview of “the task at hand” and “the issues, challenges, and opportunities we face in responding to it.”

The paper says “between 1970 and 2016, populations of mammal and fish species decreased by 42 per cent and 21 per cent on average.”

The discussion paper has four goals and 23 targets.

“What I see here is not only science measures, but engagement with Indigenous peoples,” he says.
As a Métis person, Andreeff is pleased to by this.

One of the phrases Andreeff highlights is ‘Mother Earth-centric actions’ in Target 19.

The paper defines Mother Earth-centric actions as “Ecocentric and rights-based approach enabling the implementation of actions towards harmonic and complementary relationships between peoples and nature, promoting the continuity of all living beings and their communities and ensuring the non-commodification of environmental functions of Mother Earth.”

“I’ve heard that said many times in Indigenous circles,” says Andreeff. He sums up this goal as “to not only live within nature, but also live in ways that bring positive growth for all nature … Our forests and our waters have to be cared for not only for ourselves, but for the animals that live here.”

In the boreal forest, one of the species at risk is the caribou.

One of Andreeff’s concerns is extreme wildfire seasons, such as the one happening this year.

“It’s not only mercantile timber going up,” says Andreeff. “Ecosystems are being wasted.”

To read the discussion paper and fill out the survey, go to or do an internet search for Toward a 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.

Walter Andreeff