$4.8M for First Nations’ Stewardship and Economic Development Approved by Coast Funds in 2018

First Nations are working to protect and better understand the species of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii with habitat-oriented science. Photo courtesy Mike Jacobs, Haisla Fisheries Commission.

For 10 years, Coast Funds has supported the amazing work First Nations are undertaking to steward their territories and build a sustainable economy throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

The Gitga’at Oceans and Lands Department apply Indigenous knowledge to all aspects of stewardship in their territory. Photo by Brodie Guy.

Since inception, our board of directors has approved $81.6 million towards 353 conservation and sustainable economic development projects.

In 2018, $2.4 million was approved for 13 conservation and stewardship projects. The funding contributed to annual stewardship programs like the Gitga’at Oceans and Lands Department, the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw stewardship program, the Haisla Fisheries Commission, the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais resource stewardship program, and the Lax Kw’alaams fisheries stewardship program.

Each of these programs ensures First Nations can monitor and protect the cultural and natural resources of their vast territories. Initiatives include developing and implementing land use management plans, protecting areas of cultural importance, and ensuring Indigenous knowledge and laws are incorporated into all aspects of stewardship and resource management.

This year, the Coast Funds conservation endowment fund supported the Mamalilikulla First Nation’s Guardian program in their efforts to monitor their territories in the Broughton Archipelago, conduct research on invasive blue mussels at Port Elizabeth, and undertake eelgrass surveys in partnership with Hakai Institute.

In 2018, the Da’naxda’xw First Nation constructed three Guardian Watchmen cabins throughout its territory. Photo by Melanie Clapham, BearID Project.

In Knight Inlet, the Guardians of Da’naxda’xw First Nation constructed three cabins throughout their territory, allowing them to improve regional monitoring efforts, research projects, and the safety of their stewardship staff.

Several species and monitoring projects were supported in 2018. The Council of the Haida Nation is developing a recovery strategy for Haida Gwaii’s national bird: the endangered Stads K’un (Northern Goshawk). And the Nisga’a Lisims Government is undertaking an aerial survey of mountain goats in the Nass Wildlife area.

Coast Funds’ board of directors approved $2.4 million for 10 sustainable economic development projects in 2018. Each project supports the growth of a diverse and sustainable economy along the central and north coast.

This year on the north coast, the Gitga’at Development Corporation is establishing a laundromat service in Prince Rupert, and on the central coast Hamasta Reforestation is starting a silviculture business. Each business created helps strengthen First Nations’ economies and reduce community reliance on single industries.

Companies like the Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation are creating training and job opportunities for local residents. That means members can stay in their home communities rather than migrating to urban centres.

Nuxalk Nation is completing the second phase of construction for a new restaurant located in the centre of Bella Coola. Photo by Laura Hope.

In 2018, a number of First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest continued to develop their cultural and eco-tourism industries. Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) Nation is supporting employment for its members through Homalco Wildlife Tours. Nuxalk Nation is building longhouse cabins and a beautiful new restaurant along the edge of the Bella Coola River.

This year, Coast Funds’ board of directors approved $4.8 million to support 23 First Nations-led projects. Each endeavour is making a big impact on the well-being of First Nations communities and showing the world that a sustainable economy is vitally linked to conservation efforts.

See the full list of approved conservation and economic development projects here, and learn about how First Nations-led initiatives are strengthening community well-being here.