Approval from Heiltsuk Hereditary Chiefs in Bella Bella and Vancouver

Kii’iljuus has returned from her trip to Bella Bella, on B.C.’s Central coast, to meet with Heiltsuk Hereditary Chiefs. The Chiefs table appointed Wigvilhba Wakas’ (Harvey Humchitt) to the Coastal Voices steering committee. Wigvilhba Wakas’ then met with Heiltsuk Head Chief in Vancouver, Woyala (Toby Humchitt), in early December and gained his consent and approval for this project.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    Wigvilhba Wakas’ (Harvey Humchitt)

Wigvilhba Wakas’ (Harvey Humchitt)

Haida Hereditary Chiefs Table Pass a Motion of Support

Anne and Kii’iljuus have returned from another round of travel – this time to Old Masset on Haida Gwaii to meet and discuss the Coastal Voices idea with the Council of the Haida Hereditary Chiefs Council. After formally asking for their consent, the Haida Chiefs pass a motion to support the project and appoint Gitkinjuaas (Ron Wilson, Skidegate) and Giteewans (Vern Brown, Old Masset) as Steering Committee members. Later, our team was joined by Skil-Hillans (Alan Davidson, Old Masset) when Vern became too ill to travel.

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Seeking Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Anne and Kii’iljuus have returned from beautiful Gold River, B.C. where they shared their collaborative research proposal with The Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries, a council that brings together 17 Hereditary Chiefs from up and down the west coast of Vancouver Island to work on initiatives related to ocean resource management.

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Standing in Chief Maquina’s stunning big house, Anne and Kii’iljuus did a presentation where they shared the idea for Coastal Voices. The council passed a motion to support the project and they appointed Hereditary Chief Tom Happynook, Huu-ay-aht Ha’wiih, as a member of our Steering Committee. 

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Cultural Advisors on Board!

Kii’iljuus (Barb Wilson, Haida) and Geetla (Elroy White, Heiltsuk) generously agree to be cultural advisors and help co-conceive and guide the ‘Coastal Voices’ project. Together they will provide invaluable input and guidance regarding how to tackle the profound social-ecological changes and challenges stemming from the recovery of sea otters on B.C.’s coast.

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The first piece of critical advice: Kii’iljuus counsels Anne to seek permission and guidance from Hereditary Chiefs across coastal B.C. and Alaska and form a Steering Committee with them. And so, we will begin this journey.

Exciting News! Funding Enables the ‘Coastal Voices’ Project!

Exciting news! Anne has been awarded a Pew Fellowship! This award carries a dollar value of $150,000 and will be used to initiate the ‘Coastal Voices’ project which will examine the cascading effects of predator recovery on coupled human-ocean ecosystems.

Here’s a quick summary of the project proposal:

“In the world’s temperate coastal oceans, the extirpation and subsequent recovery of sea otters has generated profound changes in reef ecosystems and coastal economies. To confront the complex challenges associated with sea otter recovery, this project aims to work with coastal communities to share knowledge, develop ecosystem-based management strategies and responsive governance structures to help navigate the difficult ecological and social transformations triggered by the recovery of this keystone predator.”

The first step now will be to do more listening and learning. It is important to seek out the advice and opinions from coastal Indigenous leaders and communities to find out how they envision addressing these complex issues and how they can be partners in leading this important work.

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A ‘Window of Opportunity’ Leads to an Idea for Collaborative Research

After a long history of social injustice and inequity in fisheries access rights to coastal First Nations, a reconciliation protocol agreement was signed in 2009  between provincial and First Nation governments in an unprecedented move to support First Nations rights to co-manage coastal resources. This was big news and represented an important step in promoting shared decision making in resource management in coastal B.C.

The reconciliation protocols were the start of many new dialogues between coastal First Nations and the B.C. Provincial government. In the ocean, this manifested in new ways to think about coastal planning and economic development. For example in 2011, a unique collaborative, ecosystem-based, marine planning partnership (MaPP) was initiated between 17 First Nations and the Government of B.C. with the goal to develop marine use plans to provide recommendations for the management of marine areas, uses and activities.

Although the MaPP Initiative represents a remarkable opportunity to transform coastal management, none of the draft marine plans explicitly deal with the obvious challenges associated with sea otter recovery! This is an important gap, given the return of sea otters is a major disturbance that will affect many components of marine planning, including commercial and subsistence fisheries strategies, community livelihoods, marine protected area objectives and the design of shellfish aquaculture plans, and even transportation routes.

Anne has set to work drafting a proposal to address this gap, seeking funds to bring people together and work on this important issue collaboratively.

The Start is Listening and Learning

Oct. 14, 2012

The question: How do you come up with an idea to work on a marine conservation research initiative that advances marine governance, management and conservation in Canada to better meet the dual goals of ecological sustainability and social justice?

The answer: You talk to people, and you listen to what they have to say.

In the summer and fall of 2012, Anne toured around asking Indigenous leaders and stewardship directors, marine researchers, government and NGO managers and planners in British Columbia (B.C.) what THEY thought are the most pressing marine conservation challenges and opportunities facing our coasts. Common concerns centered on changes in the abundance and access to rockfish, herring, abalone, crabs, sea urchin, clams and kelp and how that influences coastal community livelihoods, foods and cultures.

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Common solutions offered include increasing local decision-making, marine planning and the integration of western and traditional knowledge.

Anne mulled over what brought these various issues together, and worked on developing a collaborative research idea that could have positive conservation and social outcomes in B.C., and Canada more broadly. Now it just needs some funding to get off the ground!