Sharing a common interest in the protection of the natural and cultural resources of the Gault Nature Reserve, McGill University and the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki (W8banaki) are pleased to announce a partnership agreement welcoming the Nation’s members to the site to practice their cultural activities.
This agreement grows out of a series of 52 Calls to Action that McGill established as part of its own project of recognition and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Situated at Mont St. Hilaire, McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve protects more than 1,000 hectares of natural forest. Mont St. Hilaire, whose Abenaki name wigw8madensis means small mountain in the shape of a house, is located on the Ndakina, the ancestral territory of the W8banaki Nation. This culturally significant space for the Abenaki has long served as a site of meeting and exchange.
The partnership agreement, in effect since January 1, 2021, establishes free access to McGill University's Gault Nature Reserve for all members registered with the Odanak and Wôlinak communities, which make up the W8banaki Nation in Quebec. The agreement recognizes the ancestral territory and cultural value of the nature reserve to the Abenaki.
"We are pleased with the establishment of such a positive and innovative agreement" says Mr. Denys Bernard, Executive Director of the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki.
“This is another step along the path to honouring the past and reconciling the future. A long road remains ahead of us, but we are committed to engaging and collaborating with Indigenous partners to identify, explore, and advance plans that benefit our whole society by embedding Indigenous traditions in the life and activities of the University,” says Professor Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) of McGill University.
About the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki
The Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki was founded in 1979 and is a Tribal Council composed of the Abenaki bands of Odanak and Wôlinak.
Its first mission, drawn up in December 1993, was revised and corrected, at the request of the Board of Directors, by a working committee composed of members of Odanak and Wôlinak, in March 1997.
Based on the eight objectives set out in the letters patent of Waban-Aki Corporation Inc. the mandated committee identified three main elements of its mission; representation, development and administration.
About the Gault Nature Reserve of McGill University
McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve is a private reserve which protects nearly 1000 hectares of natural environment. Situated at Mont St. Hilaire approximately 40 km from Montreal, this panoramic natural landscape is ideal for viewing the last great vestiges of old-growth forests in the St. Lawrence Valley. With its 25 km of trail network, it is open 365 days a year. Affiliated with the Faculty of Science at McGill University, the Gault Nature Reserve team offers support for natural science research and teaching while providing a wide range of services to the university community and the general public.