Innovative partnership leads to healthier fishery, provincial award

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Deloitte Senior Auditor Kain Big Canoe presents NFN Chief Scott McLeod and outgoing Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Carrie Hayward with the Gold IPAC Leadership plaque. The two have been working together for the last two years on the Lake Nipissing fishery, helping fish stocks recover into a state of sustainability. 

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by Isabel Mosseler

The Lake Nipissing fish stock are recovering, much of this due to cooperation between the Nipissing First Nation (NFN) fishery and the MNR, said former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Carrie Hayward. On Tuesday, June 26th, NFN Chief Scott McLeod and Carrie Hayward received an award for this innovative partnerhip. The national public sector leadership award from the Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC) and Deloitte was presented by Kain Big Canoe, a senior auditor with Deloitte and a member of Georgina Island F.N.

“The MOU [agreement] is groundbreaking in that NFN’s very own fishery law was adopted by the province, which is the first time in history that I am aware of —definitely in the province.  It’s a huge deal because the Deloite IPAC award is like the Academy Awards for public sector; Nipissing and the MNR got the highest honour this year, the Gold,” announced Kain Big Canoe.

Over the last couple of years, after years of tension and mistrust on Lake Nipissing between NFN and the MNR, the two organizations came together to sign a Memorandum of Understating (MOU) and began to work together with the goal of managing a sustainable fishery on Lake Nipissing. Hayward said, “After over 40 years of pressures on the walleye population, it was on the verge of collapse… it’s now in recovery.” 

The agreement between Ontario and NFN was groundbreaking as the MNR accepted Nipissing First Nation’s Fisheries Law and began to work with them. “The agreement is very significant. It’s the first of its kind in Ontario,” Hayward acknowledged. The MOU heralded a new relationship. “We spent three years talking to one to another before we reached the agreement, so the agreement is two years old. The first thing we did was actually work between our conservation officers and the community and the fishery; we talked about what happened and why people are so upset. Every day is work, and every day is not perfect.”

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