As Wayne McKenzie leans in to take a closer look at the twisted cedar branches off the coast of Lake Timiskaming in northwestern Quebec, he starts to sing a prayer.
McKenzie's Algonquin ancestors are buried at the foot of these woods. Legend has it that their souls live on in the trees. The trees are usually curved, which is said to be because the elders dance, says McKenzie, who is chief of Timiskaming First Nation.
McKenzie's prayer is one of gratitude to the former leaders of his community, who laid the foundation for him to sign a one-of-a-kind agreement with the federal government to protect the area.
Ottawa has transferred half of Parks Canada's ownership to a trust for Timiskaming First Nation to co-manage the Obadjiwan-Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site.
"It's overwhelming," McKenzie said. "It took a while, but it's here and it can show to the nation that you can work these [issues] out."