The signing of a collaborative stewardship framework agreement between the Province and Stó:lō First Nations will strengthen government-to-government relationships and enable exploration of shared responsibility for environmental stewardship aligned with the advancement of reconciliation based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The agreement commits the Province and 15 Stó:lō First Nations to participate in the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA) Collaborative Resource Stewardship Forum. Together, they will jointly explore and develop more effective government-to-government processes for shared decision-making and stewardship of the environment within S’ólh Téméxw, meaning “our world; our land” in the Halq’eméylem language of the Stó:lō, the traditional territory of the Stó:lō people. The forum will be guided by the Stó:lō First Nations perspective of “Lets’emó:t” meaning one mind, as it relates to seeking consensus and collaboration.
“Historically and today there are many pressures on our culture, heritage and environment. We need to find a better way of doing things.” Said Chief Dalton Silver, Sumas First Nation. “One of our goals in this project is to develop our relationships with the government around maintaining the integrity of our land and resources. We see this as in the best interest of all those who live here and work here and depend upon the health and well-being of our environment. We face huge challenges. This project offers an opportunity to address those challenges together.”
The forum is one of five being established as part of the Collaborative Stewardship Framework (CSF), which serves to advance reconciliation based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and the work that evolves from engagement on the Draft Principles that guide the Province of British Columbia’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Given the expected Royal Assent of Bill 41 which mandates the Province of British Columbia to update laws and policies to align with the UN Declaration, the importance and timing of this forum is recognized by both Indigenous and Provincial governments.
“Our collaborative stewardship forum results from taking a next step forward in our relationship with British Columbia over land and resource use. This is a great opportunity to explore shared decision-making and collaborative stewardship between the Province and the Sto:lo First Nation members of this arrangement.” Said Chief Angie Bailey, Aitchelitz First Nation, STSA Political Representative. “We have a lot of work to do over the next two years. We anticipate very productive and positive outcomes from this work. We hope to produce recommendations that will work to take better care of our land, resources, and environment, all of which are sacred to us. We believe we can work productively with the current government on these issues.”
Initiatives being developed and implemented through the forum include 22 unique projects which have blended teams from both Stó:lō First Nations and the Province. Projects include two-way training, cumulative effects methodology comparison, bank stabilization and flood management, water and air sampling, cultural site protection and more.
“My family has always lived here. We care deeply for the land and resources that surround us, as our home. We have always been here, and we are not going away. We share this land now with many of our neighbours. We have to learn how to get along and to take care of our home, together.” Said Chief Derek Epp, Tzeachten First Nation. “Developing collaborative relations with the Province is a part of this process. Our Collaborative Stewardship Forum gives us a way to move forward, as an opportunity for achieving this goal. We are working for our future generations and their well-being. All of us.”
The STSA/BC Collaborative Stewardship Framework includes representatives from 15 Stó:lō First Nations, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources.
A backgrounder follows.
Project & Communications Coordinator
Collaborative Stewardship Framework
The Collaborative Stewardship Framework (CSF) is a new way of involving Indigenous governments and communities in managing the stewardship of natural resources in B.C. It is being co-designed and implemented collaboratively between the Province and Indigenous governments.
During a three-year demonstration phase, the Province and over 30 Indigenous governments will establish five regional collaborative stewardship forums. The forums will test how a base of information reflecting western and Indigenous knowledge can enhance natural resource decision-making through a collaborative land stewardship approach.
In two years, Indigenous governments and the Province will co-evaluate the results of the forums to develop joint recommendations on how to expand the CSF into a province-wide, long-term approach to collaborative stewardship.
Within the forums, the Province and Indigenous governments aim to:
- Jointly set principles for collaboration and decision-making;
- Create a common vision and shared interests for the land for future generations within Indigenous governments’ territories;
- Identify shared values of importance, such as wildlife and water;
- Identify issues and knowledge gaps in relation to the stewardship of values; and
- Develop and implement joint stewardship activities to mitigate impacts to these values. These activities may involve collecting information to establish a common knowledge base, assessing and monitoring trends, and developing management recommendations.
The CSF aims to improve and foster government to government relationships grounded in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Including Indigenous knowledge and interests alongside western science in natural resource decision-making will help such decisions greater reflect Indigenous rights and values. It will also increase certainty for economic development and rural community resilience on the land base.
First Nations participating in the five collaborative stewardship forums are:
|South Coast||S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA) consists of 15 First Nations under the Stó:lō collective including: Aitchelitz, Yale, Skawahlook, Skowkale, Shxwha:y Village, Squiala, Sumas, Tzeachten, Yakweakwioose, Chawathil, Cheam, Scowlitz, Soowahlie, Skwah and Kwaw-kwaw-apilt.|
|Cariboo||The Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance (SDNA) is an alliance of four Southern Dakelh (Carrier) communities: Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation, Lhtako Dené Nation, Nazko First Nation and Ulkatcho First Nation.|
|Kootenay Boundary||Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) representing the communities of ?aq’am, ?akisq’nuk, Yaqan nu?kiy (lower Kootenay) and Tobacco Plains.|
|Thompson Okanagan||Lower Nicola Indian Band; Coldwater Indian Band; Upper Nicola Indian Band; Shackan Indian Band; Nooaitch Indian Band.|
|Skeena||Kaska Dena Council (Daylu Dena Council, Dease River First Nation and Kwadacha First Nation); Taku River Tlingit First Nation; Tahltan Council.|
Project & Communications Coordinator