The First Nations Environmental Network has a history dating back to the early 1980's when issues regarding clearcutting, herbicides, dams, oil and gas exploration and other degrading environmental practices were impacting many First Nations communities to such an extent that sustainability and survival was becoming jeopardized and future generations would be severely impacted. In 1986 when First Nations representatives requested recognition nationally in the Canadian Environmental Network (CEN), this was not initially granted but through diligent efforts the First Nations Environmental Network was officially formed in 1992 after many unofficial meetings and was formally accepted as an affiliate of the CEN in 1995. During these years, many First Nations groups and individuals were active in forming support networks and opening up communication lines as concerns over environmental destruction of life supporting systems became more evident. (FNEN resigned its affiliation with the Canadian Environmental Network in 2002 due to process changes that diminished FNEN's representation and cultural identity.)
First Nations, individuals and groups took action as sacred sites, burial grounds, food resources, air quality, water quality and peoples health were compromised by development and resource extraction.
The actions of these initiatives has resulted in many positive changes across Canada with reverberations around the world as media attention and delegates focused on environmental problems.
Some of the issues FNEN representatives brought forward and were supported in are:
- Clayoquot protests over old growth logging and clear cutting (British Columbia)
- Lonefighters attempt to stop Old Man River Dam (Alberta)
- Temogami efforts to protect last Ontario old growth forests (Ontario)
- Pictou Landing chief Albert Denny to clean up pulp mill wastewater effluent (Nova Scotia)
- Elder Joe Iron Sr. held two year blockade to stop logging in his traditional territory (Canoe Lake, Saskatchewan)
- Innu Nation's efforts to stop low-level military flights and to protect their traditional lands.
- Ma-Komininsing Anishinabeg to stop metro Toronto garbage dump at Kirkland Lake (Ontario)
- Support for Nechako River salmon stocks against Alcan development
- Protection of Sacred Mountain in Mi'Kmaq Territory (Nova Scotia)
- Lubicon recognition and protection of traditional territory from oil, gas and forest extraction (Alberta)
- Opposition to nuclear waste dumping in Saskatchewan adjacent to or on Indian Reserves
- Actions in conjunction with Nuxalk Chiefs, House of Smayusta to stop logging at Ista, King Island, British Columbia
- Supported Bear Watch in efforts to stop trophy hunting and poaching of black bears and grizzlies for body parts
- Protection of Grizzly habitat and First Nations territory in Rocky Mountain foothills from strip mining, primarily by Cheviot Mines
- Protection of Haidu-Gwaii from clear cutting and old growth logging
- Maintaining integrity of Great Whale River from destruction of James Bay Hydro development
- Stopping eradication of buffalo and wolf populations in both Canada and United States
- Support for the Nuxalk House of Smayusta and other First Nations on Canada's West Coast to stop the environmentally destructive practices of Fish Farming
- Support for the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation in their long blockade to stop Abitibi from ongoing logging and herbicide use in their traditional territories
- Plus much more and the efforts continue . . .