Chief Larry Philip Fontaine
Chief Larry Philip Fontaine, born in Sagkeeng Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba, Canada, has made outstanding contributions to the protection of the environment and to the transmission of indigenous knowledge.
For more than 25 years, he has been working to increase awareness and understanding of Aboriginal peoples both nationally and internationally, and to create mechanisms for Aboriginal peoples' active participation in national and international forums.
He has served in the Federal Government as Regional Director in the Yukon Department of Indian Affairs and as Deputy Federal Coordinator of the native Economic Development programme. He was Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and since 1996, has served as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada.
Chief Fontaine has helped the aboriginal peoples of Canada address the issue of environmental degradation in their communities, and has helped them develop the skills necessary to record, interpret, monitor and solve problems dealing with the protection of their lands and resources. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Center for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) in 1994.
An integral component of CIER's success has been its ability to form partnerships between First Nations peoples, governments, organizations and academic institutions, both at home and abroad. In 1996, he helped develop an innovative and culturally-based Environmental Education and Training Programme (EETP), which provides First Nations individuals, recruited from across Canada, with indigenous and western environmental knowledge and skills.
The programme comprises a 15-month class instruction and a three-month field practicum, which is held in a First Nation community. Participants are given the tools to engage in environmental protection initiatives on First Nation lands, particularly as they relate to environmental impact assessment, auditing and monitoring. He was instrumental in securing CIER's access to the Traditional Knowledge Working Group Meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Spain in 1997, and for securing a position as a permanent member of the Convention on Biological Diversity and of the Traditional Knowledge Working Group of the Canadian Federal Government.