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Use and Occupancy Study

Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin (RHW) is currently conducting a Treaty-wide Use and Occupancy Study for the 21 signatory First Nations. The study will be divided into five phases and will take place over the next four or five years.

Phase 1 is set to be completed Summer 2024

What is the Use and Occupancy Study?

A series of map-based interviews will be conducted with the Anishinaabe of the Robinson Huron Treaty Territory for approximately four years. The Use and Occupancy Study (UOS) data collected through these interviews will be crucial in asserting jurisdiction and protecting areas of Anishinaabe importance.

Use and occupancy mapping tells the story of a person’s life on the land in picture form and is collected through interviews. The UOS will include Anishinaabe who have extensive personal use of their homelands.

Why is this project important?

A community with robust maps will discover them to be an asset for all kinds of purposes in the coming decades.

This research will be valuable in many areas:

  • Protect Anishinaabe Rights and Interests
  • Monitor the ecosystem within Treaty Territory
  • Clarify Use and Occupancy of our Treaty Lands
  • Assist with understanding overlapping jurisdiction
  • Provide valuable evidence for litigation
  • Resource Development Strategy for the Treaty Territory
  • Add to baseline understanding and determine impacts

Use and Occupancy mapping has proven to be extremely valuable in asserting and protecting Indigenous rights. We believe that undertaking a robust Use and Occupancy Study is foundational for supporting and fostering treaty leadership.

What the research will NOT do:

  • Prejudice or otherwise impact the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund Annuities Claim
  • Define RHT Boundaries
  • Limit Anishinaabe rights to the study area, we will continue to exercise our rights where we always have.

What do excellent maps look like?

They look like Sagamok’s maps. In 2013, our project Research Director led a team that interviewed 115 Sagamok members. Those members carefully mapped 23,000 sites where they had done trapping, fishing, hunting, gathering and stayed out on the land. Shown below is a map displaying all 23,000 of the First Nation’s recorded sites.

Sagamok is currently looking at another phase of data collection to add more recorded sites.

Through the project, we will gather data points of each of the 21 member Nations and overlay them on a Treaty-wide map detailing our current use of our territory. Much of the harvesting of interest is off-reserve and demonstrates the full use of the territory.

Sample map biography—what one Sagamok member mapped during his interview. This map has been shared with expressed permission by the Respondent for the informational purposes of this brochure. It and any version of it, is property of the respondent and may not be viewed by unauthorized persons, duplicated, or distributed without his or her permission.

The UOS will take place over several years in five phases, three of which will see data collection take place in communities according to which part of the Treaty area—eastern, central or western—they are located.

Phase 1 | Research Design and Testing Methodology
Phase 2 | Eastern Group Data Collecction
Phase 3 | Central Group Data Collection
Phase 4 | Western Group Data Collection
Phase 5 | Community Verification Meetings

Throughout the project, our goal is to interview over 1000 Anishinaabe.

The target number of participants per community is based on an estimated study population, and our target percentage of community members we feel are essential to interview. The adjacent table shows the number of respondents per phase.

Will I get paid if I do an interview?

Yes. There will be a $160 honorarium. Also, at the end of the project, there will be a feast in your community at which you will receive a large laminated, professionally made map biography displaying the information you provided at your interview. These maps are beautiful, and people love receiving them. It’s a way that your First Nation can thank you for providing them with something to help them protect your homeland and advocate for your rights

CommunityNo. of Interviews
Atikameksheng Anishinabek330
Dokis First Nation330
Henvey Inlet First Nation330
Magnetawan First Nation330
Nipissing First Nation 330
Point Grondine 330
Shawanaga First Nation 330
Wahnapitae First Nation 330
Wasauksing First Nation 330
Phase 2: Eastern Group
CommunityNo. of Interviews
Aundeck-Omni Kaning
First Nation
M'Chigeeng Frist Nation330
Sagamok Anishinawbek330
Sheguiandah First Nation330
Sheshegwaning First Nation330
Whitefish River First Nation330
Zhiibaahsing First Nation330
Phase 3: Central Group
CommunityNo. of Interviews
Batchewana First Nation
of Ojibways
Mississauga #8 First Nation330
Ojibways of Gargen River330
Serpent river First Nation330
Thessalon First Nation330
Point Grondine 330
Shawanaga First Nation 330
Wahnapitae First Nation 330
Wasauksing First Nation 330
Phase 4: Western Group

*Sagamok members who participated in the 2013 study need not be reinterviewed These map biographies have a long shelf-life and we say miigwech for your contribution. If you are a Sagamok member who has NOT been interviewed, we would love to have you participate in this study.

Use and Occupancy Study Interview

Can I participate?

If you’re an adult Anishinaabe land user from Robinson Huron Treaty Territory and have direct and extensive personal harvesting experience (i.e. hunting, fishing, trapping, medicines, maple syrup, etc.). We invite you to sign up for an interview; the more respondents we have, the stronger our final data and research will be. Your knowledge will be essential to our Treaty study process and the protection of our Treaty lands.

What is the interview like?

It only takes, on average, less than two hours. The questions are straightforward because, after all, you are the world’s top expert on the topic of your life on the land. The well-trained interviewers are competent and respectful and love working with harvesters to help them produce their map biographies. Most participants end up commenting that they enjoyed the experience. Believe it or not, being interviewed for this is fun.

This map from the Sagamok Anishinawbek 2013 Use and Occupancy Map Survey shows cultural sites like overnight camping sites, cabins, sacred areas, and other fixed cultural sites. This map was shared with the permission of Sagamok Anishinawbek in order to demonstrate the importance of our Treaty communities in participating in this foundational Use and Occupancy research.

UOS Brochure

The Use and Occupancy Study Brochure provides general information on the current project being supported by the Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin.

Download Brochure

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