MNO Citizens’ Research Presented at COP15:
UN Biodiversity Summit in Montreal
This past year, a community science project based in Region 7 partnered the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) with the Toronto Zoo and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) in an ambitious and collaborative effort to collect research on endangered native bat populations in Ontario.
Following a volunteer appreciation event in Midland, MNO Lands Resources and Consultation (LRC) staff and partners were invited to present project findings at COP15, a UN Biodiversity Summit held in Montreal, QC from December 7-19, 2022.
COP15 (“Conference of the Parties”) brings together governments and organizations from around the world to seek shared solutions to today’s environmental challenges, developing a Global Biodiversity Framework with partners and sustainable development goals to reverse nature loss.
A key theme at this year’s conference was the importance of engaging Indigenous communities in this critical, collaborative process.
Representing the MNO was LRC Consultation Advisor, Hope Hill, who served as a panelist for the discussion “Collectively Setting the Research Agenda to Conserve Native Bats” held at the Canada Pavilion the evening of December 9, 2022.
“It was great that MNO citizens were able to contribute directly to the biodiversity studies,” shares Hope, speaking to the collaborative work between the Georgian Bay Traditional Territory Consultation Committee project volunteers, the NWMO and the Toronto Zoo.
“Partnerships like these also allow for relationships to be built and grow. Through this research opportunity, I got to meet many citizens and learn more about them. Projects like these not only build a sense of community with partners, they help foster reconciliation through shared priorities like sustainability and conservation efforts.”
Presenting alongside Hope were fellow research partners Toby Thorne, the Toronto Zoo Native Bat Program Coordinator; and James Wagar the NWMO Indigenous Relations and Melissa Mayhew, the NWMO Senior Environmental Scientist.
“Working together, we’ve built amazing new relationships with people living in the South Bruce region who participated in the community science and outreach elements of this project,” shared Melissa in her panel presentation.
“Protecting people and the environment is central to our work, and this project is a great example of how we do that by aligning with Indigenous Knowledge, applying best available western science research practices and engaging members of the local community to help gather data and share the word about protecting bats.”
This year’s COP15 and attending leadership saw Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed as authorities on environmental stewardship, whose knowledge and insights are key to developing an inclusive, effective Global Biodiversity Framework.
Just as the bat, one of Earth’s smallest creatures, plays an important role in maintaining our overall ecosystem; the MNO, too, is doing its part to promote the welfare of the planet, presenting alongside world leaders and lending a Métis voice to global conversations on conservation and sustainability.
The success of the conservation project and presentation would not have been possible without the hard work and enthusiasm of its many volunteers and partners, who dedicated their time to establish acoustic monitoring systems in their areas and collect valuable data on native bats and their habitats.
Connecting MNO citizens to the lands, connects Metis communities to Métis culture. As Métis, we take our role as environmental stewards seriously. The MNO anticipates many more community science projects in the future, and encourages the community to be involved in these exciting and worthy initiatives.