An alliance of First Nations on BC’s North and Central Coast, and Haida Gwaii
Coastal First Nations is an alliance of Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Gitga’at Nation, Metlakatla Nation, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation.
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.
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.
First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, and across the entirety of what is now called Canada, have been stewarding their lands and waters for millennia. The pivotal work of Coastal First Nations in laying the groundwork for Indigenous Guardian programs was featured in a recent article by Sierra Magazine.
Coastal First Nations has signed a Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement with the Government of Canada. The agreement will enhance First Nations’ access to existing commercial fishing licenses and quota, and deliver an enhanced role in fisheries governance.
This October, Sevenseas Marine Conservation & Travel Magazine is featuring stories previously published by First Nations in Coast Funds’ Talking Stick as well as features on Marine Planning Partnerships in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.