Zhaagimaa Waabo

Guided by Manito Aki Inakonigaawin, and recognizing the significance of Treaty #3’s connection to the land, the Territorial Planning Unit (TPU) works with Treaty #3 Leadership to protect the lands, waters, and resources within the 55,000 square miles that make up the Treaty #3 Territory.

Initiatives & Priorities

Manito Aki Inakonigaawin (MAI): MAI is the sacred resource law of the Nation. This law is a customary law that has governed our people since time immemorial and is based on our responsibility to ensure that the land, the people, and the future is protected. The TPU is working to operationalize MAI when engaging with Government and industry on natural resource and other matters in the territory.

Sites of Anishinaabe Cultural Significance: SOACS is an initiative created in partnership with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) to protect important cultural sites within the Treaty #3 Territory. These include, but are not limited to, ceremonial sites, burial sites, teaching or gathering sites, rock art such as petroglyphs and pictographs, and traditional plant and medicine locations. Once designated under SOACS, its record is kept confidential by Grand Council Treaty #3 and the site is protected from future mineral development.

Co-Management: The TPU is in the process of drafting a co-management concept paper in order to become more involved in the natural resources planning process, and to be able to better incorporate Aboriginal traditional knowledge into management planning within the Treaty #3 Territory. The TPU is also exploring opportunities for revenue resource sharing.

Watershed Management Planning: The TPU is in the process of exploring funding opportunities and identifying partners to develop a territory-wide watershed management plan in order to better understand the potential impacts of resource development on waters within the territory. This plan will require significant community involvement including quality testing and more.

Transportation and Procurement: The TPU is working with the Ministry of Transportation Ontario to work on procurement opportunities in the transportation sector. Communities may bid on government contracts that are available through the Aboriginal Procurement Program provided they have the qualifications and equipment to do the job. The TPU is planning to conduct community asset inventories to facilitate this process.

Successes within the TPU.

Growing the TPU team - Staff of 3 to 9 people since 2015
Increased technical capacity - 50% of the staff - degree or higher - Bachelor's Degree Environmental or Law
Greater trust in the TPU

Current Projects

  • Working on co-management with Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Considering more full-time positions for projects that are unfolding
  • Agreement with TransCanada to advance the TransCanada Energy East pipeline project
  • Funding and participating in a Treaty #3 environmental assessment process
  • Broadening the relationships with Ministry of Environment regarding climate change, MTO, Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO), Ministry of Indigenous Reconciliation (MIR)
  • Developing a strategy for a Treaty #3 watershed management plan and exploring an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant to fund that


One of the challenges the TPU faces is finding creative ways to make leadership and the community understand the importance of participating in energy boards, Energy East etc.

It is important to access enough information through direct engagement in order to provide feedback on projects. It’s a phased approach when new business or industry wishes to do business with Grand Council Treaty #3.  A review of the environmental impact or environmental impact is usually the first step, then an evaluation of the impact on Treaty rights, and then feedback from the communities. This process faces roadblocks and challenges along the way. The TPU’s goal is to mitigate the impact of the different phases to prioritize what is important.

Proper Adherence to Manito Aki Inakoigaawin is Accomplished By:

  • Sharing current information to build the capacity of Treaty #3 members related to resource development projects, proposed changes to government policy, and other activities that have the potential to impact the lands or waters, or existing Treaty rights of our Nation with its members.
  • Enabling the participation of all Treaty #3 members in the natural resources decision-making process.
  • Respond to and provide strategic or technical advice to our 28 communities in the Treaty #3 Territory related to resource development and/or environmental regulation.
  • Engaging Resources and Forestry, and Transportation Ontario on policy development and other issues of interest to our members.
  • Engaging and mentoring Treaty #3 youth to promote careers and leadership opportunities in the environmental and natural resources-related fields.
  • Encourage the cultural and social well-being of the Anishinaabe Nation by seeking cultural and other guidance of Treaty #3 elders as it related to the natural resources development and the environment.
  • Exploring common interests and facilitating pragmatic approaches to the management of natural resources and to natural resources planning in the Treaty #3 Territory and across the Province of Ontario; and
  • Exploring and facilitating economic development opportunities for Treaty #3 businesses in the natural resources, environmental, or other associated business sectors.
  • Providing reports, financials and transfer payments to Government agencies that fund the unit
  • Work with a variety of technical working groups on the provincial level
  • Convey environmental and resource policy changes

Our Mandate

  • Engage with the Ministry Policy Table and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Engage with mining companies and forestry companies
  • Explore new industries that are developing resources such as new mines
  • Develop new forest management plans, energy plans, pipeline documentation and pursue nuclear waste management studies
  • Ensure the right communities are consulted for all initiatives
  • Ensure environmental and treaty rights are maintained
  • Mitigate any impact to the environment
  • Prior to any development encourage consultation among all parties concerned
  • Engage at the Federal Level on behalf of Grand Council Treaty #3. The Federal Government is reviewing all the Federal Regulation Acts, Natural Energy Resources, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act providing high level advice on how to best accommodate the First Nations in those reviews
  • Provide advice to communities for any environmental assessment or projects eg. Mining that triggers an Environmental Assessment
  • Provide strategic advice to Treaty #3 leadership regarding files on natural resources, environment and energy
  • Attend conferences to learn about current practices and to network to develop new working relationships
  • Community asset inventory
  • Needs and gaps analysis
  • Engage on water issues
  • Working groups – local representation
  • Engage with NGO’s

NIBI Declaration of Treaty #3

The development of a water declaration would ensure that Treaty #3 Anishinaabe Nibi Inaakonigewin (water law principles) are recorded and formally recognized in governance processes.The declaration will guide GCT3 Leadership in the creation of future policy and decision-making processes that relate to water. Another component of the declaration is to inspire people to take action to protect water through the development of a toolkit that contains curriculum based learning tools and information on how to get involved in the further development of this important work.

“This knowledge will be preserved and shared through the declaration with our youth and future generations,” said Women’s Council member Priscilla Simard. “Anishinaabe-Ikwewag have a sacred responsibility to NiBi and should be included in all decision-making around nibi. This declaration will guide us in our relationship with NiBi so we can take action individually, in our communities and as a nation to help ensure healthy, living NiBi for all of creation.”

With the declaration  in hand, the Women’s Council will forge ahead with this important work of honouring Nibi throughout the Anishinaabe Nation of Treaty #3. An exercise that has seen the Nibi Declaration received through ceremony at the National Spring Assembly and will be distributed to all communities at the National Fall Assembly 2019.

“This declaration is vital for the physical and spiritual health of our Treaty #3 communities, our land, our families and future generations,” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh. “When I was approached with the original model of this declaration, I had a vision that instructed me to tell the people that water is precious and it can give life but water can also be dangerous and can take life.  The Nibi Declaration is a way for Treaty #3 to explain the Anishinaabe relationship to water. This Declaration is about respect, love, and our sacred relationship with nibi and the life that it brings. It is based on Gitiizii m-inaanik teachings about nibi, aki/lands, other elements (including air and wind) and all of creation. This knowledge will be preserved and shared through the declaration with our youth and future generations.”

As Anishinaabe Kwe, the Women’s Council have responsibilities which includes child care and water. Isobel White (Naotkamegwanning – Whitefish Bay), Priscilla Simard (Couchiching), Maggie Petiquan (Wabauskang), Rhonda Fischer (Niisaachewan –  Dalles), Anita Collins (Seine River) are representatives from the four directional governance. The Women’s Council worked together with the Territorial Planning Unit and Decolonizing Water.


Nibi Declaration Toolkit

This Toolkit will provide you with information on how you, your family and your community can support the Nibi Declaration of the Anishinaabe of Treaty #3.

Inside this Toolkit you will learn how the GCT3 Women’s Council started the process to create a Treaty #3 Nibi Declaration with a research support team, and have met with other knowledge keepers/Gitiizii m’inaanik to receive guidance on how to proceed with community engagement. There are also summaries of meetings that have been held to date, the proposed process for the development of the Declaration, examples of other water declarations, and plans for ways to implement the Nibi Declaration.

PDF Download