On April 1, Tina Giroux-Robillard took over the position of Executive Director of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management board. She replaces Ross Thompson who retired after holding the position for thirty years.

Going forward, Giroux-Robillard feels there are a lot of challenges facing her early in her new role.

“It’s a time where caribou are in decline and the federal government is looking to list barren-ground caribou as a threatened species under the Species at Risk Act, so there is a heightened awareness for us to focus on what can do to make sure the caribou are around for future generations,” said Giroux-Robillard.

At a December meeting of the management board, a motion was passed to call on government and Indigenous groups to commit to help funding the board for the next ten years for a new management agreement.

The deadline to sign that management agreement was March 31 of this year.

While that deadline has passed, Giroux-Robillard says she expects the funding will eventually be in place.

“All jurisdictions have signed an interim agreement to continue working to finalize the management agreement that will enable additional funding to be brought in,” she said. “A lot of the reasoning behind this is timing. A lot of budgets were already done for this fiscal year, so we are really working to ensure everyone is on board next year for this funding.”

Part of the plan moving forward is the drafting of a ten-year plan for the caribou management board, which Giroux-Robillard says could be made public by the end of the year.

As was mentioned, the federal government is looking into the possibility of classifying barren-land caribou as a threatened species; a classification Giroux-Robillard believes would help the management board in their role.

“I do think listing barren-ground caribou as threatened would advance our work in protecting the caribou because we anticipate there would be funding from the federal government,” she said. “We need that kind of input, funding, interest, and priority to deal with the scale of this issue.”

Government data has shown a steady decline in the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds over the past decade.

(PHOTO: file photo)