For the first time ever, a river was granted legal personhood in Canada this year. The Muteshekau-shipu Alliance made the official announcement back in February. The river in question is the Magpie River, located in Quebec’s Côte-Nord region.
You may be wondering what exactly this means. Let us give you a little clarification. So the granting of legal personhood for the Magpie River came about through the adoption of two resolutions by the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit and the Minganie Regional County Municipality. Because of this process, the river has been granted nine rights, as well the ability to have a legal guardian to protect said rights.
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More specifically, the river’s personhood status means it is protected from things like hydro developments or other environmental threats. It now has the right “to live, exist, and flow,” as well as the right to maintain its natural biodiversity.
All of this stems from a larger global movement, which originally began in New Zealand, that aims to protect and recognize the rights of nature.
This particular river, the Magpie River, spans almost 300 km and is known for its rapids and deep blue waters. It may be the first in Canada to be granted legal personhood, but we doubt it will be the last.
You can read more about the movement, and the Indigenous history behind it, right here.