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Coast Funds’ 2023 Annual Report Highlights First Nations’ Achievements in Stewardship, Economic Development

From releasing an action plan to protect their marine territories to launching new sustainable energy projects, First Nations are building a conservation economy in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Coast Funds is proud to serve First Nations and partner on projects that achieve their goals for stewardship, conservation, and economic development.


First Nations Invest in Conservation Economy

In our 2023 Annual Report, we feature projects and stories from First Nations that have worked with Coast Funds to invest in stewardship and Guardian programs, Nation-owned businesses and infrastructure, and sustainable energy projects to power their communities.

In 2023, Coast Funds delivered nearly $5.7 million for 23 projects, including:

  • $3.5 million for 16 stewardship and conservation projects, and
  • $2.2 million for seven economic development initiatives.

Coast Funds also worked with New Relationship Trust and the Province of BC to administer the Community Energy Diesel Reduction (CEDR) program, which delivered $5.6 million for 13 sustainable energy projects, including nearly $3 million for seven projects led by First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Up and down the coast, First Nations are building a conservation economy that sustains communities, cultural traditions, and ecosystems. Since 2008, First Nations have leveraged their financing through Coast Funds to:

  • Invest $111.6 million in community-led projects which, over time, have attracted nearly $307 million in additional investment for completed and active projects.
  • Create, acquire, or expand 138 businesses across a range of sectors, including tourism, manufacturing and processing, forestry, and transportation.
  • Support 1,292 new, permanent jobs, including 993 roles held by First Nation community members, which is about 13% of the working-age population in the region.
  • Deliver training for 1,588 people in job skills, first aid and safety, stewardship, vessel operation, and other areas.
  • Carry out 396 scientific research and habitat restoration initiatives to support 75 different species.
two young men wearing hip waders stand in a stream, sampling fish
K’ómoks Guardians carry out fisheries surveys to monitor salmon populations. (Photo: Josh Neufeld / Na̲nwak̲olas Council)

Securing New Funding for Marine Stewardship, Coastal Communities

In 2023, First Nations shared their action plan for a marine protected areas (MPA) network in the Great Bear Sea (also called the Northern Shelf Bioregion), which includes new and stronger protections for wildlife habitat, sensitive ecosystems, and culturally-important places.

In tandem with the MPA network, Coast Funds is supporting First Nations in developing a new project finance for permanence (PFP) initiative that will deliver long-term funding for marine stewardship and sustainable economic development in coastal communities.

In December, we welcomed the Province of BC’s $60-million investment in the Great Bear Sea PFP and First Nations’ marine stewardship programs. This contribution follows the Government of Canada’s 2022 pledge of $800 million for four Indigenous-led PFPs, including the Great Bear Sea PFP. These announcements, along with contributions from private funders and supporters, bring Nations closer to a final closing agreement, expected in 2024.

Spending Down the Original Economic Development Fund

young woman stands behind a bakery counter, getting biscuits and croissants ready for sale
Saltwater Bakery takes its name from Git Lax M’oon, which is Sm’algax for “People of the Saltwater.” (Photo: Gitxaała Enterprises Corporation)

When Coast Funds was created, $60 million was placed in an economic development fund and allocated between participating First Nations. Between 2008 and 2023, Nations invested $52.5 million through Coast Funds to support new businesses, community infrastructure, and local entrepreneurs.

As part of the planned transition of the original economic development fund, Coast Funds has been working closely with First Nations that have economic funds remaining, ensuring that every Nation receives the maximum benefit from their allocation.

Through the Great Bear Sea PFP, 17 First Nations are securing new funding for economic development and community prosperity. In addition to those investments, Coast Funds is working with partners in government and philanthropy to explore other options for attracting new investments to the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.

Strengthening Our Capacity to Continue Serving Nations

In 2023, Coast Funds welcomed a new board member, Nees Ma’Outa Clifford White from Gitxaała Nation, appointed by the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society. We also welcomed new staff members to support stewardship fund administration, planning, and fundraising.

In this time of growth and transition, our team remains committed to delivering predictable financing and high-quality services to First Nations on the coast.

Download our 2023 Annual Report to learn more.