People We Love :: Sophia Rabliauskas

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“Everything We Do is About the Land”

Sophia Rabliauskas lives in an isolated but thriving community of the Poplar River First Nation, whose traditional lands were threatened by industrial logging and hydropower development. The Nation's lands border the eastern side of Lake Winnipeg and are under Manitoba provincial jurisdiction.

Rabliauskas, who grew up in the region and now works as a student guidance counselor, led her people in a successful struggle to protect the land they call home. For eight years she helped create maps of the territory and recorded the ecological and historic knowledge of Poplar River elders—melding modern technology and traditional wisdom. The most comprehensive and detailed land management plan ever produced by a First Nation led to interim protection for 2 million acres of boreal forest. The 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize honored Rabliauskas' leadership in developing this process.

The Nation is now seeking UNESCO world heritage status for a larger part of its forest.