Three senior Aboriginal Australian leaders, David Ross, Dean Yibarbuk and Denis Rose, along with Patrick O’Leary from the Pew Charitable Trusts, are this week being hosted by the Canadian Indigenous Leadership Initiative to share the success of the Australian Indigenous ranger and Indigenous Protected Area programs with Canadian Aboriginal representatives and politicians.
The Australian Indigenous rangers program and Indigenous Protected Area program are world leading models of success in protecting nature and transforming lives across vast areas of Australia.
The Trudeau Government of Canada has committed to doubling the amount of protected nature in Canada’s lands and oceans by 2020 as part of a historic $1.3 billion investment in the environment of the country. A central part of this commitment is working with Canadian First Nations peoples to conserve and protect land, through programs in part modelled on Australia’s Indigenous rangers (called ‘Guardians’ in Canada) and Indigenous Protected Areas.
David, Denis and Dean and Patrick, alongside Canadian First Nations land and sea managers and representatives from the Canadian Indigenous Leadership Initiative, Boreal Conservation, Country Needs People, and others, will meet with Canadian decision makers to share lessons about the successful Australian models.
The delegation which will travel to Yellowknife, Ottawa and Victoria to meet with key politicians and Canadian First Nations land managers. Meetings include the North West Territories Premier and Cabinet Ministers, senior representatives from the Dehcho, Sahtu, and Lutsel K’e Guardians programs, and the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.
Denis is a senior Gunditjmara man whose commitment to protecting country is evident in his long history in Aboriginal land and cultural heritage management. Denis worked for the Australian Federal Government in the 1990s, and was instrumental in the development of the Indigenous Protected Areas Program. He is currently employed as a Project Manager for the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and Denis was the Chief Executive Officer with Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation in Heywood from 2002 until 2010. Denis also worked as a ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
David is of Arrernte/Kaytetye descent. Since 2000, David has been the Director of the Central Land Council, an organisation which represents the Aboriginal peoples of Central Australia. In addition to running one of the most respected and long-standing Aboriginal organisations in Australia, Mr Ross has played a significant role on national Indigenous issues, particularly those relating to land rights, native title, and economic development. More recently his leadership at the CLC has resulted in the rapid expansion of the community ranger program and the creation of the CLCs innovative community development unit. David’s long-standing experience in Indigenous Affairs includes being a Commissioner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Chairman of the Indigenous Land Corporation.
Dean Munuggullumurr Yibarbuk
Dean is a traditional owner of Djinkarr, near Maningrida, and his language is Gurrgoni. Dean has taken a prominent leadership role in developing contemporary land management programs to deal with conservation issues on Aboriginal land. Dean has worked as a ranger, a scientist, a mentor and holds a number of executive management positions. Dean has been a key figure in the development of Warddeken Land Management Limited, the declaration of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area and the development of a ground-breaking use of traditional knowledge of savannah burning practices to deal with climate change.
Patrick O’Leary has worked in conservation and environmental research, policy, and advocacy for the last 30 years, including 20 years working in remote Australia at the overlap of Indigenous and environmental interests on land and sea. He has worked as a policy advisor to the Northern Land Council and Northern Territory Government, for non-profit environment groups, as well as a consultant and advisor to small local Indigenous land and sea management groups. Since 2010 he has led advocacy work for the Pew Charitable Trusts Outback Australia program to grow Australia’s Indigenous land and sea management sector through the Country Needs People alliance with 40 Indigenous land and sea management groups across Australia as well as advising on Pew’s Indigenous partnerships and supporting Australian/Canadian collaboration via Pew’s Canadian Indigenous partners.