Environment: Current Problems

BC


August 17, 2021


Forest Management

BC Government ignores First Nations Forest Strategy

Tŝilhqot’in, Lake Babine & Carrier Sekani Territories: Our Nations call on the Province to significantly rethink and revise the Forestry Intentions Paper content that is intended to address Crown Indigenous reconciliation, and commit to a process to co-draft a revised version of the Paper with our Nations, other interested First Nations, and the First Nations Forestry Council. The revised version of the Paper must set out how forestry laws and policies will be changed to address our Aboriginal title and rights in a manner consistent with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the “Declaration”) and BC’s own Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (“DRIPA”).

The Forestry Intentions Paper was developed without Indigenous participation. This contravened the Province’s own best practices, and the requirements of s. 3 of DRIPA, of co-developing legislation and policies with Indigenous peoples that deeply affect our Aboriginal title and rights and futures as Indigenous nations. the Forestry Intentions Paper only contemplates increasing the share of Indigenous participation in the forest sector without addressing the following more fundamental changes that are required:
• shifting from longstanding denial of Aboriginal title to actively implementing Aboriginal title and jurisdiction, including through the transition towards land returns to Indigenous peoples and joint Crown-Indigenous forestry management:

  • managing forestry in a way that protects and enhances the ability of Indigenous nations and our members to be able to meaningfully exercise our rights and uphold our cultural values, including by understanding and taking into account cumulative effects; and
  • significantly improving forestry revenue-sharing with affected Indigenous nations.

The province needs to begin working with our Nations to co-develop a substantially revised Forestry Intentions Paper that takes into account the issues outlined above.


February 16, 2021


Forest Management

BC Government ignores First Nations Forest Strategy

BC First Nations Forestry Council – The Forest Stewardship Council of Canada (FSC) has announced their full support of the BC First Nations Forest Strategy (the ‘Forest Strategy’). Released in May 2019, the Forest Strategy was developed in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (MFLNRORD) to advance reconciliation and support the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It was fully endorsed by BC First Nations through resolutions passed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit, and the BC Assembly of First Nations in 2019.

“FSC Canada looks forward to accompanying the BC First Nations Forestry Council in the successful implementation of the Forest Strategy, along with an effective commitment from the Government of British Columbia to uphold UNDRIP,” says David Flood, Chair of the Board for FSC.


November 16, 2020


Forest Management

BC Government ignores First Nations Forest Strategy

NationTalk – [Op-Ed] BC First Nations in Forestry: What Does Commitment Mean? – In several letters sent to BC First Nations in 2018 and 2019 the Government committed to involving Nations in the development of forest policy, including legislative and regulatory review. Regardless of these commitments, the BC Government made significant changes to forest policies and legislation, such as Bill 21 (Forest and Range Practices Amendment Act, 2019) and Bill 22 (Forest Amendment Act, 2019), with no input from First Nations. This includes the development of regulations and policies that disproportionately impact small tenure holders, and puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

Recently, Premier Horgan committed to “implementing the report, A New Future for Old Forests, in its totality” if re-elected; a report that was developed without meaningful input or engagement with First Nations.
In 2018, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD) made a commitment to develop a revitalized BC & First Nations Forest Strategy (the “Forest Strategy”) in collaboration with First Nations to reflect their commitment to advance reconciliation, implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and increase the involvement of First Nations in all areas of forestry.

n 2019, the Forest Strategy was drafted in collaboration with MFLNRORD, based on recommendations First Nations have provided for over a decade. The First Nations Leadership Council and BC First Nations fully endorsed the Forest Strategy in 2019 through resolutions passed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit, and the BC Assembly of First Nations. However, the BC Government still has not endorsed or committed to implementing the BC & First Nations Forest Strategy
https://www.forestrycouncil.ca/cpages/forest-strategy-public


May 1, 2019


Forest Management

BC Government ignores First Nations Forest Strategy

BC First Nations Forest Strategy (Draft) May 2019

Guiding principles

  1. To advance reconciliation by recognizing First Nations as governments with an increasing role in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources in BC; NOT ADDRESSED
  2. To honour and move forward on the commitments made by the Province to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP- guided by Articles 25-32 and specifically Articles 26, 28 and 29) ) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls-to-Action (“TRC Calls to Action”); and LIMITED
  3. To respect and promote alignment with case law, including the Tsilhqot’in Decision NOT ADDRESSED

The six (6) goals of the BC First Nations Forest Strategy

Goal 1: Shared Governance and Joint Decision-Making NOT ADDRESSED
Goal 2: A Strong Forest Economy that Supports Meaningful Sharing of Revenues with First Nations NIOT ADDRESSED
Goal 3: Forest Legislation and Policy Development and Reform LIMITED (reference Indigenous involvement NOT collaboration)
Goal 4: Tenure Reform that Recognizes Undrip and Supports a Healthy and Strong Forest Sector NOT ADDRESSED
Goal 5: Collaborative Stewardship and Land Use Planning NOT ADDRESSED
Goal 6: Maximize First Nations Involvement in the Forest Sector NOT ADDRESSED

The BC Government has signed off on full implementation of “A New Future for Old Forest” released on April 30, 2020 that pays lip service to collaboration and engagement with Indigenous people with extremely limited focus on addressing any of the above Guiding Principles and Goals highlighted by the “BC First Nations Forest Strategy “– in collaboration with the BC Government!
https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/563/2020/09/STRATEGIC-REVIEW-20200430.pdf


July 15, 2020


Climate Change

Bill 17 Clean Energy Act ignores First Nations

The amendment of Bill 17, proposed in June, raises alarming concerns that the NDP government has no intention of honouring the principles of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), despite proclaiming it to be a cornerstone of its mandate. Many of the UNDRIP principles speak to the importance of consent from First Nations when changing laws in ways that are directly and materially detrimental to First Nations and Indigenous peoples, as is the case with Bill 17.
Bill 17 directly threatens Tŝilhqot’in clean energy aspirations as captured in the Tŝilhqot’in Nation Clean Energy Plan, currently under review. That plan would see the Tŝilhqot’in become not only self-sufficient in the production of clean energy, but a net contributor to clean energy in BC. Bill 17 represents a direct threat to the future of that program and the clean energy independent power projects that have had such positive impacts for First Nations and regional economies.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has been actively involved in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources’ Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro, which contains many progressive ideas which, if intelligently implemented, would have positive impacts on energy policy benefiting all British Columbians. The changes contained in Bill 17 have never been raised during these engagements and these changes diminish the progressive ideas discussed in that review. It is disconcerting to realize that while this government was “consulting” on BC Hydro’s future, Bill 17 was secretly being developed.

Bill 17 would introduce a poorly conceived policy detrimental to regional economies and CleanBC targets, as well as the economic and self-sufficiency aspirations of First Nations in this province. The government’s myopic focus on the single priority of ‘affordability’ has blinded it to the ramifications this Bill has for many other government priorities. On the altar of ‘affordability’ would be sacrificed: Reconciliation, First Nations’ economic and governance aspirations, regional economic development opportunities, the energy self-sufficiency we enjoy in BC, clean energy and the NDP’s much touted environmental goals.
http://nationtalk.ca/story/tsilhqotin-nation-stands-with-nuu-chah-nulth-and-other-first-nations-in-bc-in-calling-on-the-ndp-government-to-table-bill-17


November 3, 2017


Climate Change

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Envronment must include Indigenous views

Assembly of First Nations – First Nations must be full participants in all meetings of Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to ensure their voices are heard in environmental and climate change solutions.

“Reconciliation has to include respect for our Elder’s traditional knowledge and our understanding of the lands and waters, the animals and plant life. We have a central role to play in lawmaking in this area, and we have responsibilities to safeguard our traditional territories and our people. We hold valuable knowledge that can help everyone in maintaining a healthy environment for all our children.” The AFN has created the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) and is currently establishing a network of climate coordinators across Canada. The Assembly is also working with First Nations Elders on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge policy that would support federal efforts to better respond to the impacts of climate change and other environment issues.

In his presentation to the CCME, the National Chief advanced three points:

  • Establish “regional tables” between First Nations and provinces and territories to ensure First Nation participation within the different regions;
  • First Nations’ law must also be accommodated and recognized, in addition to common law and civil law, when dealing with environment and climate change regulation and management as a way to express and share First Nations’ traditional knowledge and responsibilities to safe guard the lands, wildlife, waters, and resources;
  • First Nations must be involved as key players in the emerging economic industry for clean energy, adaptation, and mitigation.

November 18, 2020


Climate Change

Climate Crisis and First Nations Right to Food

The Narwhal – Human Rights Watch released “My Fear is Losing Everything: Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food in Canada“.

The report details how longer and more intense forest fire seasons, permafrost degradation, volatile weather patterns and increased levels of precipitation are all affecting wildlife habitat and, in turn, harvesting efforts.
The report also outlines how there are more hunting and foraging risks due to warming temperatures. For instance, it’s harder — and sometimes impossible — to hunt caribou because the ice and permafrost they travel on isn’t stable enough for hunters.

“Climate change threatens to decimate these food systems, risking further serious consequences for livelihoods and health,” the report states.

The report also found that climate change is driving up prices for less-nutritious, store-bought alternatives that need to be brought in from the south. This is in part due to the fact that roads constructed from snow and ice are becoming less reliable because of warmer winters, meaning food needs to be flown in, which is far more expensive. This compounds the risk of food poverty for First Nations people, the report states.

Canada gets a failing grade on mitigating the effects of climate change, according to the report. The country is among the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, with per capita emissions upward of four times higher than the global average, the report states, noting that between 1990 and 2017, emissions increased by roughly 19 per cent, mainly due to mining and oil and gas production.
Canada is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average; in the North, it’s even worse, with temperatures rising three times as quick.

Human Rights Watch lays out several recommendations for the federal government, including that:

  • Canada deem the right to food a basic human right
  • strengthen its climate change policies to reduce emissions
  • improve climate adaptation measures in First Nations and
  • support a transition toward renewable energy, including for First Nations, in the COVID-19 stimulus package.

https://thenarwhal.ca/climate-change-indigenous-food-insecurity-report/
https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/10/21/my-fear-losing-everything/climate-crisis-and-first-nations-right-food-canada#_ftn301


July 24, 2020


Environmental Impacts

Coastal GasLink ignores Environmental Assessment Act

Unist’ot’en – BC’s Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) has issued a non-compliance after Coastal GasLink clears pipeline Right of Way through hundreds of wetlands without environmental fieldwork. There are nearly 300 of these protected wetlands along the pipeline route, and Coastal GasLink’s “Qualified Professionals” have neglected to develop site-specific mitigation for any of them. Nearly 80% of the pipeline right-of-way has been cleared already, affecting most of these protected wetlands.

Unfortunately, It will be CGL’s same Qualified Professionals who failed to properly assess these wetlands in the first place who will now assess how badly the wetlands have been damaged. Wet’suwet’en leadership has repeatedly requested that Coastal GasLink provide specific plans for how they plan to cross watercourses and wetlands in the territory, which are used heavily by Unist’ot’en Healing Center clients and Wet’suwet’en members for hunting, trapping, and medicine gathering. Coastal GasLink has been unable to provide these site-specific plans. This recent EAO determination shows Wet’suwet’en leadership that this lack of planning was actually illegal under the Environmental Assessment Act, as it violates Condition 6 of the project’s Environmental Assessment Certificate.

CGL cannot continue to ignore the Environmental Assessment Act in order to meet its construction targets. The BC EAO’s priority should be to protect the public interest, not to ensure that CGL’s construction timelines are met. It is unacceptable that hundreds of wetlands would be damaged before any enforcement action is taken.
https://unistoten.camp/july62020/?utm_source=First+Peoples+Law+Blog&utm_campaign=61cf7dba64-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_10_09_19_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_84105b31a3-61cf7dba64-198230465


December 1, 2018


Environmental Impacts

Failure to protect Woodland Cariboo

Government of Canada – “Progress Report on Steps Taken to Protect Critical Habitat for the Woodland Caribou” indicates little progress is being made toward conservation. Meanwhile, provinces continue to issue permits for energy and forestry developments that do not comply with Species At Risk Act (SARA) , placing caribou at even greater risk. (David Suzuki Foundation)

Canada’s Species at Risk Act requires provinces to create plans to ensure at least 65 per cent of caribou habitat is protected and restored to help them survive.

This report notes that there continue to be gaps in comprehensive protection for boreal caribou critical habitat throughout the boreal caribou range… Most importantly, the development of regionally-specific range plans through meaningful partnership with Indigenous Peoples and broad engagement with multi-stakeholder groups, and their implementation, including through effective laws, regulations and policies, are central to achieving this outcome.
https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/species-risk-public-registry/critical-habitat-reports/woodland-caribou-boreal-population-protected-2019.html


March 26, 2021


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

The AFN, based on direction from the Chiefs-in-Assembly, intervened in this case, as well as court cases in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta, arguing the Government of Canada has a direct legal obligation to recognize Aboriginal and Treaty rights in any legislative efforts to address climate change.


March 25, 2021


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Supreme Court finds that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act 2018 is constitutional.


March 25, 2021


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Westaway Law Group – The majority judges noted that climate change “has had particularly serious effects on Indigenous peoples, threatening the ability of Indigenous communities in Canada to sustain themselves and maintain their traditional ways of life.” [para 11] They also acknowledged that, “the effects of climate change are and will continue to be experienced across Canada, with heightened impacts in the Canadian Arctic, coastal regions and Indigenous territories.” [para 12] These are important acknowledgements on the part of the Court, and no doubt had some impact on their assessment that the matters addressed in the GGPPA are matters of national concern.

Although the Court did not specifically make reference to s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as noted, the result is consistent with the evidence and arguments put forward on behalf of First Nation interveners.


October 20, 2020


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Toronto Star – The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) reserved judgement on whether the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act 2018 (GGPPA) is constitutional following hearings on September 22 and 23 with the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM), along with the Anishinabek Nation (AN), granted intervener status.

The GGPPA sets minimum standards for carbon pricing on provinces that have not implemented an equivalent provincial program. The provinces argued that they should have control of greenhouse gas (GHG) policies while environmental advocates and other interveners asked the court to recognize the necessity of a national response to climate change.

“The UCCMM intervened in this case because climate change disproportionately affects First Nation communities, our traditional way of life and our ability to assert and exercise jurisdiction in relation to environmental issues that directly impact their lands and their people,” said Patsy Corbiere, UCCMM Tribal Chair. “As stewards of the largest freshwater island in the world we are ensuring that the courts take into account the Anishinabek perspective when determining if climate change is a matter of national concern. As the quality and quantity of our natural resources and medicines continue to diminish with the effects of climate change, it is vital that our voices be heard and our rights be respected.”

In the current appeal to SCC, the AN and UCCMM urged the court to “adopt an approach to the issues in this case which allows jurisdictional space for all levels of government: federal, provincial and Indigenous, in regulation of critical environmental matters.” Patricia Lawrence from Westaway Law Group, appearing on behalf of the AN and UCCMM, argued that “First Nations should not be left without effective redress as a result of federal-provincial jurisdictional disputes.

The Crown must be held accountable for the protection and preservation of the aboriginal and treaty rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. If the provinces are unable to effectively protect these rights, the federal government must be permitted to step in and enact legislation,” said Chief Corbiere.


January 9, 2022


Forest Management

Indigenous Rights: Conservation vs Logging: Fairy Creek

Toronto Star: The Indigenous-led Fairy Creek protest on southern Vancouver Island, active since August 2020 and with 1,188 arrests, so far, is the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.

The RCMP has reportedly spent $6.8 million on policing in 2021, cycling in officers from round the province for one- to three-week stints. Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones, who has invited the protestors to his nation’s traditional territory, is calm in the face of locals who support logging….“Uncle Bill” tells of the dissent he faces from his own Pacheedaht band council, whose members value the proceeds of logging and have asked the protestors to leave their territory. It’s a difficult thing for me to accept,” says Uncle Bill. “we are in the end game. And we are fighting for the last of our Mothers ancient old growth.”

Fairy Creek’s struggle has moved beyond the old-growth trees. Indigenous logging is a “total victory of the Indian Act”, according to Uncle Bill – the legislation was meant to eradicate Indigenous culture in favor of assimilation, and has made the Pacheedaht financially dependent on the outsiders’ forestry companies.


December 1, 2021


Forest Management

Indigenous Rights: Conservation vs Logging: Fairy Creek

NationTalk – First Nations leaders from across B.C. and Technical Advisory Panel member Dr. Rachel Holt called on the provincial government to take faster action to protect threatened old-growth forests and commit the resources necessary to support First Nations through this process with immediate deferrals. Following the government’s announcement of its intention to defer 2.6 million hectares of at-risk old-growth forests, they gave a 30-day deadline upon First Nations to decide on logging deferrals, while themselves taking more than 18 months to reach this point. As this arbitrary and rushed deadline draws to a close, First Nation leaders and experts are criticizing both the process itself and the lack of progress on the ground.

Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond stated “British Columbia has used Indigenous self-determination and consent as part of its justification for the 30-day time limit for Indigenous decision-making regarding old growth deferrals. This is incoherent and disingenuous. The UN Declaration makes clear that consent must be ‘free, prior and informed.’ Unilaterally determined approaches and timelines is not ‘free, prior and informed’ decision-making. Yet this is exactly what BC has done – taking 18 months to develop its approach without First Nations and then giving First Nations 30 days for their decision-making.

This is not co-operation— it is not a basis for consent.”
https://nationtalk.ca/story/first-nations-and-tap-member-demand-faster-action-and-adequate-resources-to-protect-old-growth-forests


September 9, 2021


Forest Management

Indigenous Rights: Conservation vs Logging: Fairy Creek

Ricochet“Double standard: B.C. requires Indigenous consent for forest conservation but not logging”.
Among the specific recommendations in an independent report “A New Future for Old Forests: A Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems” is the deferral of logging in all at-risk old-growth forests in B.C. within six months. This deadline has long passed.
On the election debate stage last fall, Premier John Horgan said every tree in B.C. grows in the territory of a First Nation and protection of forests must be done with them. This is true, and it’s a great standard. But it’s currently a double standard because that’s not what’s required for logging. Logging tenures have been established without Indigenous consent. While companies must consult nations on their cutting plans, they don’t need to receive a yes.

The B.C. NDP’s requirement of consent for conservation but not for logging has been rightly criticized as “ridiculous” by Indigenous leaders.

Many First Nations have a stake in logging in their territory. But far from their rightful place as decision-makers, their role is too often limited to revenue-sharing agreements. In these agreements, nations receive some of the money generated by logging. These deals can mean a lot, especially in remote communities, as they provide needed revenue and sometimes other benefits like jobs. After hundreds of years of having their resources stolen and territories degraded, few First Nations are in a position to turn down sources of revenue. But this is the unfair choice the B.C. government is forcing on communities.

Substantial funding to support nations and ensure choosing deferrals doesn’t mean a loss of revenue has been called for repeatedly by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), among others. So far, not a single dollar has been earmarked for this purpose by the B.C. NDP government.

Permanent protection of old-growth requires nation-to-nation negotiation and the return of land to Indigenous Peoples. This process will take a lot of work and time. But time is what old-growth forests don’t have. In the year after the old-growth strategic review, the number of permits for old-growth logging actually increased.
The review panel called for deferrals to provide breathing room for conversations. Their report frames deferrals as a starting point, not the final outcome. The government has torqued this, insisting deferrals take months if not years, while status quo logging continues in the meantime.

Public outrage grows, with the blockades around Fairy Creek set to become the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/forestry/stewardship/old-growth-forests/strategic-review-20200430.pdf


February 26, 2021


Environmental Impacts

Milburn Review of Site C Dam

BC Government – The Province has released the Milburn review (Oct. 10, 2020), with 17 recommendations aimed at improving oversight and governance. Government and BC Hydro have accepted all the recommendations.

The review focused on four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Geotechnical issues
  • Risk
  • Construction Supervision and Claims Management

https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Milburn_Summary_Review.pdf


August 10, 2020


Environmental Impacts

Mount Polley Mine Tailings disaster

“Safety First” a new report by Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada recommends that all new mine tailing ponds be constructed using filtered tailings storage, otherwise known as dry-stack tailings. When filtered tailings are not an option, at the very least better dam construction needs to be required by regulators, Safety First states. The reports notes the elephant in the room still remains: should the B.C. government allow the development of new tailings dams upstream of communities and should those that currently exist be closed down?”
https://biv.com/article/2020/08/lessons-learned-mount-polley-disaster


August 1, 2019


Environmental Impacts

Mount Polley Mine Tailings disaster

BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council – released “Reducing the Risks of Mining Disasters in BC: How Financial Assurance can Help”. Based on the analysis presented in this report, we make one overarching recommendation to British Columbia policy-makers and two supporting ones.

6.1 Main recommendation

Require hard financial assurance against the risk of mining disasters in British Columbia

6.2 Supporting recommendations

  1. Pursue a “tiered” financial assurance scheme for mining disaster risk in British Columbia
    • British Columbia should implement firm-level bonding requirements, insurance requirements or an industry fund, then later combine this assurance with coverage from an additional instrument,
  2. Broaden pooled risks in a tiered scheme’s highest tier
    • governance bodies for publicly-run risk pools should leverage the knowledge and expertise of First Nations by including Indigenous representation

http://fnemc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Reducing-the-Risk-of-Mining-Disasters-in-BC-FNEMC.pdf


August 14, 2014


Environmental Impacts

Mount Polley Mine Tailings disaster

The Mount Polley mine tailings dam collapsed, releasing 25 million cubic metres of contaminated mining waste. The massive spill destroyed or affected over 2.6 million square meters of aquatic and riparian habitats over a 10-km distance. Imperial Metals did not even pay the full cost of the clean-up. British Columbians and Canadians picked up a huge part of the tab. This sets the wrong standards and sends the wrong signal to industry and other mines across Canada.

It further undermines public confidence in the mining sector and erodes people’s trust in the ability of our regulatory system to effectively protect the environment. Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. New government should undertake a complete review and ensure all of the recommendations of the 2015 Mount Polley review and the 2016 BC Auditor General reports are fully implemented.


January 29, 2021


Environmental Impacts

Multiple threats to Pacific salmon fishery

The Province – K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett — Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation, President of Coastal First Nations and co-chair of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council to British Columbia — describes the urgency of the salmon crisis and the immediate need for collective action. The importance of healthy salmon populations for coastal First Nations cannot be overstated— especially during the coronavirus pandemic, which has driven home the need for food security in these Nations. Connecting land and marine ecosystems throughout the coast, salmon has been the lifeblood of coastal economies and First Nations’ culture for thousands of years.

Although the factors causing salmon declines are varied and complex, we know the main causes. Cumulative impacts from more than a century of mismanagement, industrial logging and overfishing, plus climate change, have led to these record low salmon returns. And just as the bottom has dropped out of salmon abundance along the Pacific Coast, we’ve also seen a drastic reduction in monitoring programs by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

First Nations along BC’s North Pacific Coast have made progress, through the Great Bear Rainforest agreements and others, toward ending destructive logging practices and reducing exploitation of fisheries through limiting catches and enforcing strategic closures. We have protected important salmon-bearing watersheds and implemented ecosystem-based management in others, while establishing new stock assessment and catch monitoring programs across our territories.


August 9, 2019


Environmental Impacts

Multiple threats to Pacific salmon fishery

BC Assembly of First Nations – Failure to issue a closure to all marine and recreational Fraser River salmon fishing due to the Big Bar Landslide near Lillooet. On June 21, 2019 a large land slide was discovered in a remote part of the Fraser River, which is considered one of the most sacred rivers for First Nations in BC and is considered one of the most productive salmon rivers in the world.

First Nations in BC are extremely concerned about the landslide as it has blocked migrating salmon from returning to their spawning grounds. First Nations, including Tŝilhqot’in Nation and Nak’azdli Whut’en, located along the spawning route are declaring closures to the 2019 fishing season. Regional Chief Teegee is the Pacific lead for the AFN National Fisheries Committee, which is co-chaired by Regional Chief Roger Augustine (New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island). Even though this is a cause for conservation measures to help Fraser River salmon, many First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries are being restricted, at the same time the unregulated recreational and commercial fisheries are open – this contravenes the principle that conservation measures apply to all fishers.

First Nations cannot be restricted access to fish while commercial and recreational fishing is allowed to continue. We are very familiar with the collapse of the fishery on the east coast and all signs point to mismanagement by the federal government as well as their unwillingness to honour long standing treaties. The same appears to be happening with the west coast fishery.


January 13, 2021


Environmental Impacts

Opposition to Imperial Metals Mining permit in the Skagit Watershed

NationTalk – An international coalition of more than 200 conservation, recreation and wildlife groups as well as local elected officials, businesses and Tribes and First Nations opposing a pending mining permit by Imperial Metals in the headwaters of the Skagit River continues to grow.

  • Letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan signed by 108 U.S. stakeholders including conservation, recreation and wildlife groups as well as elected officials and local businesses
  • Letter to George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy signed by 9 Canadian conservation and recreation organizations and leaders
  • Letter to Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development signed by 9 Canadian conservation and recreation organizations and leaders.

“The potential impacts to two of the most beloved Canadian parks and to downstream values in Washington State are both unacceptable and unnecessary.”

The Skagit Watershed is also critical to the health and well-being of the region’s residents and local recreation-based economies. The current mining and logging threats are located in a “donut hole” shaped area sandwiched between Manning and Skagit Provincial Parks. Both parks and other recreational destinations are major outdoor recreation destinations just a day trip from the greater Vancouver metro area and draw more than a million visitors each year. The proposed mining activities include creating access roads, conducting surface exploration drilling with associated water supply and catchment sumps, and mechanical trenching over a five-year period of continued disturbance.

“After a century of blasting, drilling and tunneling to find a workable mine with no luck whatsoever- it’s time for British Columbia to extinguish Imperial Metals’ mineral tenure in the Skagit Headwaters Donut Hole and then, with First Nations, protect the place,” said Joe Foy, Protected Areas Campaigner, Wilderness Committee. “BC must also enforce an Imperial Metals cleanup of the site, which is strewn with a hundred years worth of garbage, waste rock and mine drainage left behind by years of fruitless exploration.” –

The company proposing to mine in an unprotected area of the Skagit Headwaters, Imperial Metals, was responsible for the infamous Mount Polley mine disaster of 2014, which spilled more than 24 million cubic meters of wastewater laden with arsenic, lead, selenium and copper into the Fraser River watershed, one of the biggest environmental disasters in Canadian history. More than five years later, no charges or fines have been filed against Imperial Metals.

The Skagit Watershed is a transboundary issue. Potential mining would impact recreational and economic benefits on the Canadian side of the border as well as fisheries and water quality benefits as the Skagit River flows through Washington State, winding through the scenic North Cascades National Park, the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and through the renowned Skagit River Valley before reaching the Puget Sound. The Skagit River provides one third of the freshwater inputs to the Puget Sound and supports the largest populations of threatened steelhead and chinook salmon in the Puget Sound and the largest run of chum salmon in the conterminous U.S.
https://nationtalk.ca/story/ubcic-international-coalition-opposing-mining-in-skagit-headwaters-grows


March 4, 2021


Environmental Impacts

The Narwhal – Response to the Milburn review

The Narwhal as flagged the following as major problems:

  • 50 per cent of the $5B increase to $16B in project costs are due to geotechnical issues relating to the unstable valley prone to large landslides and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • But the other 50 per cent of the cost increase was not revealed. Every single independent look has concluded that we don’t need the energy, even with the electrification of the province

Judith Sayers, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president and a board member of Clean Energy BC, said clean energy projects led by First Nations would create far more long-term jobs than the Site C dam. “When Site C is up and running it’s 25 measly jobs and right now, those 4,000-odd workers that they’re talking about, a lot of them come from out of province. They just have work for a few years and then they’re gone.”

Sayers pointed to the B.C. Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, which she said has created 1,089 jobs over the past six years with approximately $3 million in annual federal and provincial funding. That work involves installing heat pumps, solar, geothermal and other climate-friendly projects in First Nations communities.
In the process, 418,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions have been prevented and almost $2 million has been saved in annual energy bills, Sayers said. “This is only one small fund.”

Many First Nations communities had plans for larger clean energy projects, including wind and run of river hydro projects, that would produce energy for the grid. But those long-term projects, in every area of the province, have been mothballed due to the Site C dam, Sayers said.

Another wildcard is the landmark Treaty Rights case brought by West Moberly First Nations, alleging that the Site C dam and two previous dams on the Peace River constitute an unjustifiable infringement of Treaty Rights. The trial begins in March 2022 and is expected to last about six months.
https://thenarwhal.ca/site-c-dam-milburn-report-explainer/