Cultural Vitality

The Homalco Nation has created a new ecotourism business that provides cultural experiences, training youth guides in their language and reconnecting with their homelands in Bute Inlet. Photo by Todd Peacey for Homalco Wildlife Tours.
The Homalco Nation has created a new ecotourism business that provides cultural experiences, training youth guides in their language and reconnecting with their homelands in Bute Inlet. Photo by Todd Peacey for Homalco Wildlife Tours.

First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii regions of British Columbia have rich and varied cultural traditions, including unique governance structures, oral histories, art, language, and intimate knowledge of their natural surroundings. First Nations are actively revitalizing their cultural traditions through programs that transfer knowledge from Elders to youth, protect and document oral histories, incorporate language and traditional place names, and support stewardship activities that leverage traditional ecological knowledge.

First Nations’ indigenous knowledge is central to all science and conservation initiatives in the Great Bear Rainforest, protecting the ecological integrity of the region while maintaining or enhancing communities’ cultural vitality. By working to sustain traditions, First Nations are supporting their community members’ multi-generational retention of unique knowledge that supports long-term stewardship of their lands, ocean, and culture.

First Nations are utilizing their unique indigenous knowledge as stewards to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Traditional Stewardship

First Nations have led 50 traditional stewardship projects to protect and conserve resources and ecosystems in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii as an important element of projects supported by Coast Funds.

Community Well-Being Impact

First Nations have been stewards of their lands for thousands of years, having established a wealth of what is often termed Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). This knowledge includes in-depth understanding of local resource sustainability, harvesting sites, seasonal cycles, and cultural features throughout the region. Today, First Nations are ensuring that this knowledge is utilized to carefully manage resources and plan for the future of their communities and natural surroundings.

Our T'aalan Stl'ang Cultural Camp provides opportunities for children and youth to learn about Haida culture, biology, forestry, archaeology, and themselves at our remote camp facilities at Lepas Bay on the northwest coast of Haida Gwaii.

— April Churchill, Council of the Haida Nation

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First Nations are enabling Elders to transfer cultural and stewardship knowledge to youth through a wide range of projects across the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Elders Working with Youth

First Nations have led 47 projects with support from Coast Funds to facilitate the transfer of Elder knowledge to youth.

Community Well-Being Impact

First Nations have rich oral traditions and customs which make up the unique cultural identity of each Nation. First Nations are working to ensure that the lessons, history, language, and knowledge of their culture are passed from Elders to youth to maintain the traditions of each Nation into the future. The teachings of Elders and education of youth enables young people to become the future stewards of their territory and knowledge-holders of their Nation’s culture.

We have drumming practices that are open to everyone. The number participants are increasing every time, especially with youth joining. Knowing that they will grow up knowing our culture makes me very proud of the work that we do. Reviving our culture would not be possible without a supportive team, including contributions from Coast Funds.

— Dorothy Andrew, Councillor, Homalco Nation

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First Nations are protecting sacred cultural sites found in remote areas throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Protecting Cultural Assets

First Nations have undertaken 38 projects with support from Coast Funds to identify and protect sacred sites and cultural assets in their territories.

 

Community Well-Being Impact

Evidence of varied First Nations culture is found throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. These sites, ranging from culturally modified trees, ancient pictographs, traditional harvesting areas, sacred sites, and old village sites are important to the cultural identity and spiritual well-being of First Nations. These physicals assets, as well as bodies of knowledge (including stories, beliefs, and songs), are documented and protected through conservation initiatives. By locating, monitoring, and recording information about cultural assets, First Nations are developing databases and management plans that incorporate protection of these sacred places for future generations.

Our T'aalan Stl'ang Cultural Camp provides opportunities for children and youth to learn about Haida culture, biology, forestry, archaeology, and themselves at our remote camp facilities at Lepas Bay on the northwest coast of Haida Gwaii.

— April Churchill, Council of the Haida Nation

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First Nations are strengthening access to traditional foods for health, culture, food security, and improving species’ abundance in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Access to Traditional Foods

First Nations have led 43 projects with Coast Funds’ support to increase access to traditional foods through research, education and restoration work.

Community Well-Being Impact

First Nations have traditionally depended on the land and marine resources of their territory for food and have carefully managed these resources to prevent over-harvesting and depletion. Modern industry has threatened many of the traditional resources stocks of First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, putting the food security of these communities at risk. First Nations are leading research and restoring species’ habitat to strengthen their communities’ access to traditional foods while sustaining harvestable resource stocks.

Guardian Watchmen monitoring helps to ensure the laws of the Nations are being abided by and these programs are helping to protect the populations of species important for Food, Social, Ceremonial use in our area.

— Chris Roberts, Regional Economic Development Coordinator, Nanwakolas Council Society

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First Nations are leading programs to revitalize indigenous languages throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Revitalizing Language

First Nations have undertaken 22 projects that increase knowledge about First Nations languages with Coast Funds’ funding support.

Community Well-Being Impact

First Nations speak many different dialects throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. These languages hold the values, beliefs, and histories of their people, and are a vital tool to this pass knowledge between generations. Many of these languages have become endangered as fewer fluent speakers remain in communities. First Nations are actively revitalizing their languages through projects that teach language to youth, map traditional place names, and compile and digitize audio recordings of fluent speakers.

Language lessons were taught throughout each of the summer camps. The youth and Elders learned and practiced greetings, phrases, and names of animals and plants in our traditional language.

— Nancy Henderson, Former Administrator, Laich-Kwil- Tach Treaty Society

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