Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative

An alliance of First Nations on BC’s North and Central Coast, and Haida Gwaii

Pulling Together to Save the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo courtesy of Coastal First Nations
Pulling Together to Save the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo courtesy of Coastal First Nations

For many years, the First Nation communities of BC’s North and Central Coast, while facing many of the same challenges, worked in isolation. In the spring of 2000, community leaders came together to discuss common problems such as a lack of economic opportunities in their communities. It became clear to the Nations that together they would be able to make progress on important issues that as individuals they would have little impact on. Together the coastal First Nations formed Turning Point Initiative.

Coastal First Nation member Nations. Photo courtesy of Coastal First Nations
Coastal First Nation member Nations. Photo courtesy of Coastal First Nations

The Turning Point Initiative aimed to develop regional conservation based economic strategies in forestry, fisheries, and tourism. As government-to-government negotiations increased as part of reconciliation and Great Bear Rainforest-related land use planning, the organization became known as Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative. Coastal First Nations played a pivotal role in the negotiations which led to the Conservation Investments and Incentives Initiative, creating Coast Funds with $120 million to support First Nations in their creation of a conservation-based coastal economy.

Today, Coastal First Nations continues to strengthen the connection between the member First Nations, their environment, and their economy; it supports a sustainable economy that takes in to account the cultural and ecological diversity of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Coastal First Nations works with its member Nations on land and marine use planning, economic initiatives and capacity building. It also created the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network (now the Coastal Stewardship Network) which supports the member Nations’ guardian watchmen programs to monitor, steward, and protect their lands and waters.

Coastal Guardian Watchmen. Photo by Meaghan Hume
Coastal Guardian Watchmen. Photo by Meaghan Hume