The traditional philosophy of First Nations, and many other Indigenous peoples, is centered on the holistic view that everything is interconnected. Humanity is part of the ecosystem and not separated from nature.
Indigenous peoples live closer to the land spiritually and physically, and are more directly affected by environmental degradation than most other Canadians. As First Nations, we recognize the link between the health of the environment and the health of people and we have experienced the ravages of poor environmental stewardship first hand including contaminated lands, air, water, traditional foods and medicines.
From the broadest perspective, Environmental Stewardship is described within the context of the four basic elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. A healthy environment means undertaking measures to protect these elements from the entry of any deleterious substance that could compromise their quality. A healthy environment also means that risks to human health are being effectively controlled; that the negative effects of exposure to harmful substances are mitigated and minimized.
MERC supports the aspirations of Omushkego and other Indigenous peoples who rely upon traditional ways of life and want the security of knowing that these activities in today’s environment are not a risk to human health.
Elders and many First Nations continue to assert that we have the responsibility to protect the environment for future generations. Our communities represent the youngest, fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. While the pursuit of economic opportunities for First Nations and others must be supported, economic development must be done in ways that retain a balance with the environment. Economic activity cannot come at the expense of environmental sustainability.
 Assembly of First Nations – Environmental Stewardship; www.afn.ca