Boreal Leadership Council Congratulates Manitoba's Sophia Rabliauskas on national award

OTTAWA, June 7, 2012 /CNW/ - It is with great pleasure that the members of the Boreal Leadership Council (BLC) congratulate fellow member Sophia Rabliauskas of Poplar River First Nation in Manitoba for winning Earth Day Canada's prestigious Ongoing Commitment Award. Ms. Rabliauskas has been recognized for her efforts to protect the lands in Poplar River's traditional territory in Manitoba.

"Sophia embodies all that we strive to achieve with the BLC," said Bob Walker, chair of the BLC and Vice President, ESG Services for NEI Investments. "Her approach is thoughtful and inclusive. Poplar River has shown that comprehensive land use planning is a key mechanism for balancing ecological, cultural, and development objectives."

First convened in 2003, the BLC is a unique alliance of conservation and environmental groups groups, Aboriginal groups, resource companies, and financial institutions that are committed to conservation and responsible development solutions in Canada's Boreal Forest. Members of the BLC are also signatories to the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, a vision to conserve at least half of the Boreal Forest while supporting sustainable communities, world-leading ecosystem-based resource management practices and state-of-the-art stewardship practices in a manner that respects Aboriginal rights.

Earth Day Canada selected Ms. Rabliauskas for the Ongoing Commitment Award for: "…helping secure a five year reprieve from logging, hydro, gas and mining development. She followed this work by helping develop The Asatiwisipe Aki Lands Management Plan, a full-scale blueprint of how they intend to document, protect and sustainably manage Poplar River's forests, wildlife and other natural resources." Sophia is also the spokesperson for Pimachiowin Aki, a group of five First Nations in Manitoba and Ontario whose goal is to secure over 43 000 km2 of pristine boreal forest as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In January 2012, Pimachiowin Aki sent their nomination to UNESCO.

Through her work, Ms. Rabliauskas has consistently shown the understanding of the land that has been passed down from their Elders, and the responsibility this knowledge brings: "the Creator has given us life, he has given us land to live from, without that land our people will die."(Poplar River Elder).

Sophia is an Aboriginal woman to whom youth from all across Canada can look to as an inspiration, as an example of someone who made a difference through a respectful, patient, and astute approach to her work and her community.  Ms. Rabliauskus' award was presented during a gala ceremony in Toronto. Ms. Rabliauskus is also a past winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize and is a member of the Order of Manitoba.

Manitoba's boreal region covers nearly 600,000 square kilometers, almost 90% of the province.  Canada's boreal region contains one-quarter of the world's remaining original forests and huge expanses of wetlands.  Canada's boreal is home to a vast array of wildlife, including migratory songbirds, waterfowl, bears, and caribou.  It is an immensely important buffer against climate change. The region's natural wealth sustains hundreds of Aboriginal communities and supports thousands of jobs.

About the Boreal Leadership Council
The Boreal Leadership Council, first convened in 2003, is comprised of leading environmental and conservation groups, Aboriginal groups, resource companies and financial institutions, all of which have an interest and a stake in the future of Canada's Boreal Forest: http://www.borealcanada.ca/lead-council-e.php

Members of the Boreal Leadership Council are:

Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
Bâtirente
Calvert
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Dehcho First Nations
Desjardins Funds
Domini Social Investments LLC
Domtar Inc.
Ducks Unlimited Canada
ForestEthics
Innu Nation
Kaska Nation
The Nature Conservancy
NEI Investments
The Pembina Institute
Poplar River First Nation
Suncor Energy Inc.
TD Bank
Tembec Inc.
Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta
World Wildlife Fund (Canada)

SOURCE Boreal Leadership Council

For further information:

Suzanne Fraser, Canadian Boreal Initiative, 613-522-7277, sfraser@borealcanada.ca

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