On May 5th, 2022, Alexandre Boulerice, a Canadian member of parliament from the New Democratic Party, introduced a bill to the House of Commons in Canada that would recognize the legal personality and rights of the St. Lawrence River and the role of First Nations communities as legal guardians for the territory and waters. The bill would establish a St. Lawrence River Protection Committee, which would be responsible for acting on behalf of the River. The committee would be made up of 11 members appointed by the Governor in Council, including members recommended by the governments of Ontario and Quebec, members recommended by relevant indigenous governing bodies from Ontario and Quebec, and three members appointed by NGOs in Ontario and Quebec. “It is necessary to recognize that all Indigenous peoples who are living on the borders of the St. Lawrence River and who have navigated it over millennia are the traditional custodians of the River and ensure its protection, the enhancement of its rights and its best interest,” the bill says.
This bill was developed in partnership with the NGO International Observatory for the Rights of Nature. The organization is now working on recognizing the legal personhood of the St. Lawrence River in the Ontario Legal System.