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Talking Stick – Winter 2018/19

Updates from Coast Funds

Welcome to the winter 2018/19 edition of Talking Stick, a magazine that showcases the stewardship, conservation science, and sustainable development initiatives led by First Nations throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Download the print issue: Winter 2018/19

This issue features two projects that reconnect First Nations with their culture by renewing relationships with the lands and waters of their territories. On
Haida Gwaii, the Haida Nation has developed culture camps that unite youth with the cultural practices, values, and histories of their ancestors. On north
Vancouver Island, the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations have developed a Guardian Watchmen program to strengthen the Nations’ stewardship practices
and cultural connections.

You can find full versions of these stories online at along with in-depth interviews, community well-being outcomes, and ways to connect directly with the individuals who develop and lead these initiatives. Through projects like the two featured here, First Nations are leading the diversification of
coastal economies. Both the Haida culture camps and the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Guardian program contribute to the conservation economy through job creation, new investment, workforce development, and cultural revitalization.

December 2018 marks the retirement of Merv Child from the Coast Funds board of directors. Merv was one of the first directors on the board when Coast Funds was established, and served as board chair between 2010 and 2018. Over these years, Merv’s thoughtful leadership and tireless dedication have helped to establish Coast Funds as one of the world’s leading models of Indigenous-led conservation finance.

We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Merv, and for his efforts to ensure a smooth leadership transition to our new board chair, Huux̱ (Percy Crosby). Our thanks to both Merv and Percy for their service to this organization and to the First Nations we support.

We are honoured to present the stories First Nations are sharing in Talking Stick. If you’d like us to publish your story, please reach out to

Darcy Dobell
Communications Committee Chair

Brodie Guy
Executive Director

Stories from the Great Bear Rainforest

Supporting Stewardship through Cultural Rediscovery on Haida Gwaii

Since 1978, over 2000 Haida and non-Haida youth have participated in culture camps at ‘Laanaa DaaGang.nga (Swan Bay) and T’aalan Stl’ang (Lepas Bay). The camps are revitalizing Haida culture, and creating a new generation of leaders. Read the story of the Haida youth camps.

Swan Bay Rediscovery
Each summer Haida and non-Haida youth travel to the north and south of Haida Gwaii to attend multi-day camps that aim to reconnect them with the values and culture of their ancestors. Photo courtesy Swan Bay Rediscovery.

Return to the Homelands: Establishing the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Guardian Watchmen Program

After a forced relocation separated the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations from their homelands, the creation of a Guardian Watchmen program is helping strengthen the Nations’ stewardship practices and cultural connections. Read the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Guardian Watchmen story. 

Shell middens at Ba'as, Blunden Harbour
The shell middens at Ba’as (Blunden Harbour) where ‘Nakwaxda’xw members sustainably stewarded their territories for millennia. Today the Gwa’sala-’’Nakwaxda’xw Nations are once again stewarding the natural and cultural resources of their lands and waters. Photo by Brodie Guy.

Community Well-Being: Investing to Diversify Coast Economies

First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii are leading the revitalization of their economies and ensuring resilience through diversification. With support from Coast Funds, as well as partnerships and leveraged investments, First Nations have today invested over $266 million into the diversification of their economies. By investing in a range of economic sectors—including tourism, aquaculture, forestry, and manufacturing—First Nations are strengthening their economies and reducing community reliance on single industries. This new diversification is helping
to build a resilient coastal economy.

Learn more about the diversification of coastal economies led by First Nations and how that work is strengthening community well-being.

Download the Print Edition