APTN News: About 70 people gathered at the Saw Gallery in downtown Ottawa on Friday night to take part in a benefit concert for the Anishnabe Moose Committee.
The First Nations-led committee has been working to prevent a declining moose population in the La Verendrye Wildlife Park area near Val D’or, Quebec. “Our people rely a lot on the traditional foods on the territory,” Shannon Chief a committee member, told APTN News.
“That means the moose, the beaver, the bear and all these things we eat on the territory. Because where we live, we are very secluded. We’re like an hour or two hours away in both directions – east and west – of the next towns and we don’t really have a lot of people who have jobs and a lot of them are on social assistance. So, those that are on social assistance, they’re the ones who have to rely a lot on traditional foods on the territory. So, it’s a big deal.”
A 2022 report finds sport-hunting, logging and climate change are some of the reasons behind the rapid decline in the area moose population in the last decade.
As a result of the low numbers, there has been a moratorium on moose hunting in the park since 2020.
A total of eight performers took part in the benefit concert including Dara Wawatie-Chabot who sang the Moose Song.
Wawatie-Chabot lives in Ottawa but has ties to the area and said Chief is one of her biggest mentors.
“She pulled me into this work and I started doing what I could as an activist in the Ottawa area, as an Algonquin member, as a community member,” Wawatie-Chabot said. “So, I have just been doing my part since then. The responsibility just gets bigger and bigger and you realize that your family has carried this responsibility and it is just really eye-opening to be able to be here.”
The event was organized by a number of different groups including Climate Justice Ottawa.
“As Climate Justice Ottawa, the organization, we really emphasize bringing an intersectional approach to climate change, to environmental protection,” group spokesperson Nancy Xue said. “Indigenous solidarity is a pillar of what we aspire to support and to do.”
Chief said they plan to use funds raised from the benefit for local moose education camps to be held this fall.
“So, this concert benefit is to just raise some funds so that we can have that time this fall to be able to be out on the territory to teach our young ones and families and all the young hunters so that they understand the responsibilities we have with the moose,” she said.