Thursday 26 August 2021

Community Highlight: For Peat's Sake – Protecting Northern Saskatchewan Muskegs

1. How and when did you form your group? 
For Peat’s Sake - Protecting Northern Saskatchewan Muskegs is a grassroots organization that formed in October 2020 just after Lambert Peat Moss Inc. held an engagement meeting to inform the public of their intention to mine peat in four areas in Northern Saskatchewan. It started with a small group of concerned locals in the La Ronge area and grew very quickly. For Peat’s Sake now includes local people who would be directly impacted by the peat mining (i.e. traditional land users such as trappers, hunters, and gatherers) and people across the province who want to protect the muskegs for their intrinsic values (i.e. as carbon sinks, as water filters, as critical habitat for endangered woodland caribou, and for their unique ecosystem that grew over thousands and thousands of years). 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they're important? 
Education is a very big part of our group’s activities - we learn from each other and with each other. Peatlands – or muskegs as we call them here – are more and more in the discussion as the largest natural terrestrial carbon store and our best ally against climate change, and yet most people know very little about muskegs. So we organize speaker series that look at muskegs from an Indigenous understanding as well as from a western science perspective. We de-bunk myths about peat and the need for peat products and advocate for banning peat mining in Saskatchewan/Canada. It’s important that people know why they shouldn’t use peat and what alternatives there are for use in gardening. The less people buy peat products, the better the chances that peat mining becomes an industry of the past just like in the UK, which announced a ban of peat products by 2024. We also petition against the Lambert Peat proposal and encourage people to write letters to the Ministry of Environment. And then of course we spend time in the muskegs – picking berries and medicines or simply learning about the place. Engaging with the land is one of the most important activities because you will only protect what you love and when you spend time in the muskegs you can’t help falling in love with the land. 

3. What have been your successes to date?
We’ve done a good job raising awareness, gathering momentum, engaging with provincial and national media, and collecting over 20,000 signatures against the Lambert proposal. The successes that can’t be under-estimated though are the ones that happen informally - a conversation with a neighbour, the manager of a garden centre, a post on a local community social media site. Our local garden centre brought in peat-free soil products (there aren’t many on the market by the way) after learning where peat comes from and what harm peat mining does to the environment. Lots of people thought that, once stripped of the vegetation, mined areas would provide a great wildfire break to the communities close by the mining proposal. After learning that muskegs need to be intact (which also means wet) to function as a fire break while drained and dried muskegs increase the risk of wildfires, a neighbour who was a supporter of the peat mine helped to gather signatures against the mine. After listening to a presentation about community grassroots activism in which For Peat’s Sake was mentioned, a First Nations chief whose community had just established a food garden vowed not to use peat products again and learn about alternatives. These are the successes that make a difference and stand for the changes that are needed on a large scale. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
Our short-term goal is to stop the Lambert Peat Mining proposal from becoming reality. Once the company has submitted the environmental impact assessment report, the government will review the report and will post it for a 30-day public review period. In this period, we will be actively seeking support from individuals to send their concerns to the Minister of Environment. Long-term goals include the banning of peat mining in Saskatchewan (and Canada) and working with First Nations to establish Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas that will include muskegs that are critical habitat for human, animal, and plant species. For 2021, we will work towards these long-term goals by continuing our speaker events and forming partnerships with other organizations. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be?
I’m really proud of For Peat’s Sake. We’re all busy and yet we take the time to advocate and speak up for the lands that are dear to us. We’re coming from all sorts of walks of life and have formed a strong community. I wish that we keep supporting each other and holding each other up. I hope that one day we can have a big in-person gathering where we can meet all those that support us from far away. 

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
We’re a grassroots organization, so all activities depend on volunteers and volunteers shape our organization. You can find us on Facebook under For Peat’s Sake - Protecting Northern Saskatchewan Muskegs where we post events or ask for volunteer support (such as organizing speaker events), donations, and fundraising help. If you have an idea for a project or event and are willing to organize it, you’re most welcome to pitch it to us. You can also email us at We always welcome people who want to be actively involved.

Photo credits: Miriam Körner 

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