Participants at A/OFRC’s Lake Sturgeon “Nme” Symposium in March 2016.

Participants at A/OFRC’s Lake Sturgeon “Nme” Symposium in March 2016.

A juvenile Lake Sturgeon being released after sampling.

A juvenile Lake Sturgeon being released after sampling.

By Heidi Manitowabi, A/OFRC Community Liaison Specialist

On March 2 & 3, 2016, the Anishinabek/Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre (A/OFRC) hosted a Lake Sturgeon “Nme” Symposium at the Delta Waterfront Hotel in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. The Lake Sturgeon “Nme” Symposium brought together communities within the Anishinabek Nation to share the results of Lake Sturgeon studies that the A/OFRC has conducted, to provide a forum to discuss the cultural importance of the Lake Sturgeon, and share what the A/OFRC has planned for future studies.

Participants included Grand Council Deputy Chief Glen Hare, the Union of Ontario Indians, Lands & Resources personnel, First Nation Administrators, Economic Development Officers, Commercial Fishermen, students, and community members from communities across the Anishinabek Nation.

A total of 15 participants travelled from across the Anishinabek Nation, including Red Rock Indian Band, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, Beausoleil First Nation, Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Nipissing First Nation, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, Sagamok Anishinawbek, and Garden River First Nation to participate in A/OFRC’s first Symposium of its kind.

Peter Meisenheimer, A/OFRC’s General Manager shared during the opening remarks, “This is something new for the A/OFRC. We go to a lot of meetings where we chat about what we do. Most meetings are with state, federal and provincial agencies. We don’t often get an opportunity to have a meeting with the people we actually work for within the Anishinabek Nation.”

Topics included History of the Lake Sturgeon, Biology of the Lake Sturgeon, What the A/OFRC offers and How to Apply for Projects, Proper Sampling Techniques, Conservation & Treaty Rights, and results of Lake Sturgeon Projects in the Huron and Superior regions.

The Lake Sturgeon “Nme” Symposium was a success. Most participants indicated that the Symposium exceeded their expectations, and the information shared was interesting and relevant to the work that the communities are doing. All participants, including the Grand Council Deputy Chief and A/OFRC staff agree that these types of events should happen more in the future, and include more communities within the Anishinabek Nation.

Grand Council Deputy Chief Glen Hare stated “We need to meet like this, be frank and honest. Communication is what will drive us forward. We are the keepers of the land. People may not believe us, but it’s true. Conservation is our responsibility”

The A/OFRC is a not-for-profit organization that serves as an independent source of information for communities within the Anishinabek Nation.  The Centre provides information and recommendations for sustainable fisheries management, reports of stock status, evaluates stresses on fish populations and habitats, and offers technical support. For more information, visit www.aofrc.org.