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First Nations Have Created Over 1,250 Jobs, 120 Businesses Since 2008

In 2022, a group of Mamalilikulla people travelled to Gwa̱xdlala/Nala̱xdlala (Lull Bay/Hoeya Sound) to celebrate their Nation’s declaration of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.
(Photo: Taylor Roades)

Report cover: Sustaining People and PlaceA report released today identifies job creation, economic diversification, and other outcomes from 15 years of First Nations’ investments in stewardship and economic development in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Sustaining People and Place, published by Coast Funds, describes how conservation financing has benefitted communities and supported the protection of rainforest ecosystems that are home to Spirit bears, wild salmon, and coastal wolves.

Coast Funds, an Indigenous-led conservation finance organization, was created through the 2006 Great Bear Rainforest agreements to manage $120 million for First Nations’ conservation and economic development initiatives in the region. Between 2008 and 2022, Coast Funds delivered $109.2 million towards 439 stewardship and economic development projects.

The report finds that, through these investments, First Nations in this region have:

  • Created 1,253 new, permanent jobs and invested $63.5 million in local salaries.
  • Conducted 389 research and habitat restoration projects, benefitting 75 different species.
  • Launched, acquired, and expanded 123 businesses, in sectors ranging from ecotourism to sustainable energy.
  • Established 18 regional monitoring and Guardian Watchmen programs, which operate across more than 7 million hectares of land and marine territory.

“On the Pacific coast, First Nations are diversifying local economies and showing the world how stewardship and economic development must go hand-in-hand,” says Coast Funds’ board chair Dallas Smith, who is a member of Tlowitsis Nation. “As world leaders look to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and socioeconomic gaps, the conservation finance model we’ve pioneered with Coast Funds shows how we might do things differently.”

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This report comes just months after the Government of Canada announced an $800-million commitment to four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives, including a project finance for permanence (PFP) initiative in the Great Bear Sea. Insights and data from Coast Funds, the world’s first PFP, offer a glimpse of the benefits Indigenous communities and their supporters in other regions can expect to see with new investments in conservation finance.

As world leaders look to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and socioeconomic gaps, the conservation finance model we’ve pioneered with Coast Funds shows how we might do things differently.

First Nations have created and expanded 18 Guardian and monitoring programs, which act as a First Nation’s “eyes and ears” on their territory. (Photo: Deirdre Leowinata / Coast Funds)

In the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, Coast Funds serves 27 First Nations, delivering financing for their stewardship and economic priorities and measuring the contributions their investments make to strengthening environmental, economic, social, and cultural well-being. In addition to investments made with Coast Funds, First Nations have leveraged these resources to attract an additional $296.8 million in new investments to the region.

“Since Coast Funds’ creation in 2007, First Nations have been building a conservation economy, based in stewardship, that sustains communities and protects the lands and waters they’ve relied upon for millennia,” says Coast Funds CEO Eddy Adra. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to continue working in service of First Nations to achieve their visions for healthy and thriving communities and ecosystems.”

Through projects supported with Coast Funds, First Nations have carried out stewardship work in 127 protected areas and initiated 127 projects involving access to traditional foods, 93 projects to protect cultural assets, and 98 projects to support knowledge transfer from Elders to youth. To develop sustainable local economies, First Nations have invested in ecotourism ventures, strategic business acquisitions, and the start-up of economic development corporations.

In addition to outcomes data, Sustaining People and Place: 15 Years of Conservation Finance in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii includes information about Coast Funds’ origins and the Great Bear Rainforest agreements, the services it offers participating First Nations, and its values-aligned investing strategy.

Community Well-Being Outcomes >