Editor's note: This article is presented in both the English language and in the Cree language, the language of the Mushkegowuk people of the region discussed in the article. Each paragraph presented in English is followed by the same paragraph in Cree. Cree translation provided by Angela Shisheesh. A Cree-only version can also be found here.

A careful scan of the ocean anywhere along the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. or southern Canada in late winter or early spring will often yield a bonanza of sea ducks getting ready to set off on their northward journeys to the nesting grounds. White-winged Scoters, Surf Scoters, and Black Scoters are among the larger sea ducks that begin their northward movements in March and April. They will be headed to the Boreal Forest region of Canada to nest.

ᐯᔭᑕᐠ ᑲᓇᓇᑲᒋᑕᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᑭᒋᑲᒥᐠ ᑕᐣᑌ ᐱᑯ ᐃᔑ ᒥᔑᒧᑯᒪᐣ ᐊᐢᑭᐠ ᓀᐢᑕ ᑲᓇᑕᐢᑭᐠ ᓇᐧᐊᐨ ᐁ ᐊᑎ ᐊᐧᑲᐱᐳᐠ ᓀᐢᑕ ᐧᐃᐸᐨ ᐁᓯᐧᑲᐠ᙮ ᓄᑯᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᔑᔑᐸᐠ ᑭᐧᐁᑎᓄᐠ ᐁ ᐃᐢᐸᓂᒋᐠ ᐁ ᐃᑐᑌᒋᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐧᐊᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐧᐊᒋᐢᑐᓂᒋᐠ᙮ ᐁᓇᓇᑲᐧᐃᓇᑯᓯᒋᐠ ᔑᔑᐸᐠ ᑭᒋᑲᒥᐠ ᑲ ᐃᑕᒋᐠ ᐊᑎᐟ ᑲᒪᒥᔑᑭᑎᒋᐠ᙮ ᓀᐢᑕ ᐧᐃᓇᐧᐊᐤ ᐁᐧᐁᐧᐁᓂᒋᐠ ᑭᒋ ᑭᐧᐁᐸᓂᒋᐠ ᐧᐊᔦᐡ ᒥᑭᓯᐧᐃᐱᓯᐧᒪ ᓀᐢᑕ ᓂᐢᑭᐱᓯᐧᒪ ᐁ ᐊᑎ ᒪᒋᐸᓂᓂᒋ᙮ ᓀᐢᑕ ᐧᐃᓇᐧᐊᐤ ᑭᐧᐁᑎᓄᐠ ᐁ ᐃᐢᐸᓂᒋᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐃᑕᐧᑲᓂᓂᑭ ᐅᐧᐊᒋᐢᑐᓂᐧᐊᐧᐊ᙮

On their way north, many will stop off along the shores of one of the world’s most incredible but little-known inland seas—Hudson and James Bay. This vast marine area, nearly completely ice-covered in winter, is home to beluga whales, ringed and bearded seals, and the world’s southernmost population of polar bears.

ᒣᐧᑲᐨ ᒪᑲ ᐁᐱᑦᒪᐊᑭᐠ ᐊᐢᑲᐤ ᐊᑎᐟ ᑐᐅᐧᐊᐠ ᐊᐣᑌ ᓇᓀᐤ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ᙮ ᐊᐟᓯᐣᐯ ᓀᐢᑕ ᒉᒥᐢᐯ᙮ ᐅᑌ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᐁᒣᐧᑲ ᐱᐳᐠ ᒥᑐᓂ ᐁᐧᐃᐢᐧᑫᓯᐧᑲᓂᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᑫᒋᐠ ᐧᐊᐸᒣᐧᑲᐠ ᓀᐢᑕ ᐊᑭᐧᑲᐠ ᐧᐊᐸᐢᐧᑲᐠ ᒪᑲ᙮

It is also one of the most important places for migratory birds on Earth, and we are fortunate indeed that the Mushkegowuk Council has begun an effort to protect this critical place!

ᐁᑯᑕ ᓀᐢᑕ ᐅᓴᒥ ᑯᑕᑭᔭᐠ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᐅᑌ ᐃᑌᑫᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᑭᔕᐧᐁᓂᑕᑯᓯᓇᓇᐤ ᒪᐡᑫᑯᐧᐃ ᐅᑭᒪᑲᓇᐠ ᐁ ᐊᑎ ᓇᓇᑲᑕᐧᐁᓂᑕᑭᐠ ᐅᑕ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᓂᒋ ᐅᐅ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊ᙮

Since time began, the Omushkego (the name of the Mushkegowuk people in their Cree language) have practiced traditional conservation methods, by way of ensuring that the migratory birds are given their time and space to rest, eat, nest, molt, and continue with their own journeys.  The places where the birds do this, are off limits to the hunters and others who may cause any disturbance; only a few birds are taken for food and ceremonies. The Omushkego know that the journey is long and treacherous for the birds, any threat along their route will affect them and all who depend on them. 

ᐊᐢᐱᐣ ᐱᑯ ᐅᒪᐡᑫᑯ ᑲ ᐃᐧᑕᓂᐧᐊᐠ ( ᐅᑯ ᐃᓂᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᒪᐡᑫᑯᐧᐃ ᐃᓂᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑᓂᑲᑎᓱᒋᐠ ᐅᑎᔑᑭᔑᐧᐁᐧᐃᓂᐧᐊᐠ) ᐱᔑᔑᐠ ᐅᒪ ᑭ ᐯᒋ ᑐᑕᐧᒪᐠ ᑲ ᑭ ᐯᒋ ᐃᔑ ᐱᒪᑎᓯᒋᐠ᙮ ᐁ ᑭᓇᓇᑲᒋᐊᒋᐠ ᐅᐅ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊ ᐁᑭᓇᓇᑲᒋᐊᒋᐠ ᑭᒋ ᑭ ᐃᑕᐧᑲᓂᓂᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐧᐊᐧᐃᓂᒋ ᓀᐢᑕ ᒪᑲ ᐁ ᑭᒪᓇᒋᐊᒋᐠ ᐁᑲ ᑭᒋ ᐅᐧᔕᐧᐊᒋᐠ ᐁ ᐊᐧᓀᔓᒧᓂᒋ ᐁᒥᒋᓱᓂᒋ ᓀᐢᑕ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐸᐢᑯᓂᒋ᙮ ᐅᑯ ᒪᑲ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᒧᓇ ᐅᔕᐃᑲᑌᓂᐤ ᒧᓇ ᐸᑭᑎᓇᑲᓂᐧᐊᐣ ᐊᐧᐁᓂᑲᐣ ᑭᒋ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᐟ ᐊᐣᑕ᙮ ᐊᑎᐟ ᐱᑯ ᓂᐸᐊᑲᓂᐧᐊᐧᓇᐠ ᐧᒣᒋ ᐱᑯ ᑲ ᐊᐸᒋᐃᒋᐠ ᐁᒪᑯᔕᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᒣᐧᑲᐨ ᐁ ᐊᔭᒥᐃ ᑐᒋᑲᑌᐠ᙮ ᐅᒪᐡᑫᑯᐧᐃ ᐃᓂᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᑭᐢᑫᓂᑕᐧᒪᐠ ᑭᒋ ᐧᐊᓄᐤ ᐁ ᐅᒋ ᐱᒪᐊᒥᓂᒋ ᐅᐅ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊ ᓀᐢᑕ ᑭᔕᐢᐱᐣ ᐧᐊᓇᑕᐧᐃᑌ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᑲᑕ ᐸᑲᒥᐡᑲᑯᐧᐊᐠ᙮

Along wild and undeveloped natural shores of Hudson and James Bay are abundant foods that allow birds like scoters to gather into large flocks while they feed and rest before moving north in spring and south again in the fall. Many other ducks and geese, hundreds of thousands of them, also use the pristine coastline of Hudson and James Bay during spring and fall migration. Canada Geese, Snow Geese, Long-tailed Ducks and just about every other Boreal breeding species of waterfowl and waterbird will funnel through this area at some point during the migration period.

ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑭᐢᑫᓂᒥᒋᐠ ᐅᑯ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᐁᒥᔕᓂᐠ ᑲ ᐅᑕᒋᑫᒋᐠ ᐁᑭᒋ ᒪᒥᒉᑎᒋᐠ ᑭᓂᑲᐤ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᔑᔑᐸᐠ᙮ ᐁᓇᐧᐊᒋᒋᐠ ᐁᐧᐸᒪᔑ ᐱᒪᐊᑭᐠ ᐁᑕᐧᑲᑭᓂᓂᐠ ᑲᑐᑕᑭᐠ ᐱᑯ ᐁᐯᒋ ᐱᒪᐊᑭᐠ ᐁᓯᐧᑲᓂᓂᐠ᙮ ᒥᒉᐟ ᐅᑯ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᐧᐊᐠ ᓇᓂ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᐁᐧᐸᒪᔑ ᑭᒋᐸᓂᒋᐠ᙮ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᐧᐁᐧᐁᐧᐊᐠ ᓂᐢᑲᐠ ᓀᐢᑕ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᔑᔑᐸᐠ ᓂᐱᐠ ᑲᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ᙮

A map showing important areas for birds along the coasts of Hudson Bay and James Bay

The Hudson-James Bay coasts are also globally important areas for hosting shorebirds-- the birds in the sandpiper and plover families. In April and May, migrant shorebirds like Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Plovers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, the endangered Red Knot and many others will be passing northward through the eastern U.S and southern Canada.

ᓇᓀᐤ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᐃᔑᓇᑯᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᑕᐱᐡᑯᐨ ᔐᔐᔑᐧᐊᐠ ᐳᐡᐧᑲᒐᔑᐧᐊᐠ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐱᑯ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᑲᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᑕᐧᐃᐨ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ᙮ ᒥᒉᑎᐧᐊᐠ ᐅᑌ ᐃᑌᑫ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᑲᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᓇᓇᑲᐤ ᔐᔐᔑᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐧᐊᑯᑕᑭᐠ ᓀᑌ ᒥᔑᒧᑯᒪᐣ ᐊᐢᑭᐠ ᑲ ᐯᒋ ᐅᒋᐸᓂᒋᐠ᙮

The Hudson-James Bay shoreline may be their next rest-stop.

ᐊᐟᓯᐣᐢᐯ ᓀᐢᑕ ᒉᒥᐢᐯ ᐃᔑ ᑐᐅᐧᐊᐠ ᐁ ᐊᐧᓀᔑᒧᒋᐠ᙮

In the fall, many thousands of these same shorebirds utilize this northern coast for refueling from July through September. Radio tracking studies have confirmed that many of them make non-stop overnight flights in late summer from James Bay to the coast of New England and New York.

ᐁᑕᐧᑲᑭᓂᓂᐠ ᓄᑯᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᐅᑯ ᐱᓀᔑᔑᔕᐠ ᐁ ᑭᒋ ᒪᒥᒉᑎᒋᐠ ᓇᓂ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᐁᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ ᐅᐸᐢᑯᐧᐃᐱᓯᑦ ᐱᓂᐡ ᐧᐁᐧᐁᐧᐃᐱᓯᐧᒪ ᐁ ᐃᑕᒋᐠ ᐁᓇᐧᐊᒋᒋᐠ ᐁᐧᐃ ᐱᒪᐊᑭᐠ᙮ ᐅᐧᕃᑎᐅᐠ ᐅᒋ ᑭᐢᑫᓂᒪᑲᓂᐧᐊᐧᓇᐠ ᐁᑐᑕᑭᐠ ᑲ ᐃᔑ ᑲᑫᐱᒋᒋᐠ ᐁᐱᒋᐸᓂᒋᐠ ᐁᐧᑲᓂ ᑲ ᐅᒋ ᑭᐢᑫᓂᒥᒋᐠ ᑕᐧᐃᐨ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᐁᑕᔑᓇᐧᐃᒋᐠ᙮

It may be hard to imagine that a bird seen one spring day in Delaware Bay or New York’s Jamaica Bay, or at Plum Island, Massachusetts, might be in a place where it could see a polar bear a few days later!

ᒪᒪᐢᑲᑌᓂᑕᐧᑲᐣ ᐁᐧᐊᐸᒥᒋᐠ ᐅᑯ ᐱᓀᔑᔕᐠ ᑭᒋ ᐧᐊᓄᐤ ᒥᔑᒧᑯᒪᓇᐢᑭᐠ ᐁ ᐅᒋᐸᓂᒋᐠ ᐅᑌ ᒉᒥᐢᐯ ᐁᐯᒋ ᐃᐢᐸᓂᒋᐠ ᑲᑕ ᒪᒪᐢᑲᑌᓂᑕᐧᑲᐣ ᓄᑯᓯᑌ ᐧᐊᐸᐢᐠ ᓀᑌ ᒥᔑᒧᑯᒪᐣ ᐊᐢᑭᐠ ᒪᒋᒍᐧᐃᓯᐟ ᑲ ᐃᔑᓂᑲᑌᐠ ᐊᐢᑭᔾ᙮

But these are the amazing connections that these birds show us that we have with other parts of this amazing Earth.

ᑭᒋ ᒪᒪᐢᑲᑌᓂᑕᐧᑲᐣ ᑲ ᐊᑎ ᐅᒋ ᑭᐢᑫᓂᒥᒋᐠ ᐅᑯ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᑲᐃᑕᒋᐠ ᐅᑕ ᐊᐢᑭᐠ᙮

That’s why it is such good news to find out that the Mushkegowuk Council, made up of First Nations from the northern Ontario part of Hudson and James Bay, has begun the process to designate a massive National Marine Conservation Area for the Ontario portion of the coast and offshore waters.

ᐁᐧᑲᓂ ᒪᑲ ᓇᐢᐱᐨ ᑲ ᐅᒋ ᒥᐧᓀᓂᑕᑭᐠ ᒪᐡᑫᑯᐧᐃ ᐅᑭᒪᐧᐊᐠ ᐅᑌ ᐃᑌᑫᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᑲ ᐃᑕᒋᐠ ᑭᐧᐁᑎᓄᐠ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ ᑲᐧᐃ ᐅᒋ ᐊᑎ ᓇᓇᑲᒋᑕᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐃᔑ ᐊᐧᐃᔭᔑᔕᐠ ᐅᒋ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᑲ ᐧᐃ ᐃᔑ ᒪᓇᒋᑕᓂᐧᐊᓂᓂᐠ ᑲ ᐅᑕᒋᑫᒋᐠ ᐅᑌ ᓇᓂ ᐧᐃᓂᐯᑯᐠ᙮

And we can let them know that we support this initiative by signing on to a letter at this new, fun website developed in support of the proposal: https://marine.wildlandsleague.org/

ᓂᑲᐧᐃᑕᒪᐧᐊᓇᓂᐠ ᒪᑲ ᐅᑯ ᐃᓂᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᐁᐧᐃᐧᐃᒋᐊᑭᒋᐠ ᐅᒪ ᑲ ᐅᒋ ᑐᑕᒪᐠ ᑭᔕᐢᐱᐣ ᒪᓯᓇᐅᑎᓱᐧᑕᐧᐁ ᐅᑕ ᒪᓯᓇᐃᑲᓂᐠ ᑲᑕ ᒥᐧᓀᓂᑕᐧᑲᐣ᙮ ᐅᑕ ᒪᑲ ᐃᔑ ᐃᑕᐱᐠ ᐅᒪ ᐃᑕᓯᓇᑌᐤ ᑫ ᐃᔑ ᐅᑎᓇᒣᐠ ᒪᓯᓇᐃᑲᐣ ᐁᐧᐃᑕᒪᑲᓂᐧᐊᐠ ᑭᒋ ᐧᐊᐧᐃᒋᐃᑲᐧᐃᔦᐠ: https://marine.wildlandsleague.org/

Please check it out to learn more and add your name to those in favor of protecting this globally important place for birds and more!

ᐁᑯᔑ ᑲᓇᐧᐊᐸᑕᒧᐠ ᑭᒋ ᑭᐢᑫᓂᑕᒣᐠ ᐊᒋᑫᐣ ᑲᑐᒋᑲᑌᐠ ᒪᓯᓇᐅᑎᓱᐠ ᑭᒋ ᒪᓯᓇᑌᑭ ᑭᑎᔑᓂᑲᓱᐧᐃᓂᐧᐊᐧᐊ ᒥᓯᐧᐁᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᐁᑭᐢᑌᓂᒣᑯᐠ ᐱᓀᓯᐧᐊᐠ ᓀᐢᑕ ᑯᑕᑭᔭᐠ ᐱᓀᔑᔕᐠ᙮

Two birds with mottled black, white, and rust-colored plumage stand on a rocky beach near water. Ruddy Turnstones stand on the shore. James Halsch/Audubon Photography Awards


Jeff Wells, National Audubon Society

ᒉᑊ ᐧᐁᓪᐢ ᒥᓯᐧᐁᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᐊᐧᐃᔭᔑᔑᐧᐃ ᐊᑐᐢᑫᐧᐃᐣ ᐊᐸᒋᐊᑲᐣ

Lawrence Martin, Mushkegowuk Council

ᐧᓚᕆᐣᐢ ᒪᕐᑎᐣ ᒪᐡᑫᑯᐧᐃ ᐅᑭᒪᐧᐃᐧᐃᓂᐠ ᐊᑐᐢᑫᓇᑲᐣ

Anna Baggio, Wildlands League

 ᐊᓇ ᐸᔑᐅ ᐸᐧᑲᑕᐢᑭᔾ ᐊᐸᒋᐊᑲᐣ

Don Lyons, National Audubon Society

ᐧᑕᐣ ᓚᔭᐣᐢ ᒥᓯᐧᐁᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᐊᐧᐃᔭᔑᔑᐧᐃ ᐊᑐᐢᑫᐧᐃᐣ ᐊᐸᒋᐊᑲᐣ

Stan Senner, National Audubon Society

ᐢᑕᐣ ᓯᓄᕐ ᒥᓯᐧᐁᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᐊᐧᐃᔭᔑᔑᐧᐃ ᐊᑐᐢᑫᐧᐃᐣ ᐊᐸᒋᐊᑲᐣ

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