Taking care of the lands, wildlife and food sources in ways that reinforce and enhance the Nanwakolas member First Nations’ governance, economy, cultural well-being, and health.

The Nanwakolas Council Lands Team works with the Nanwakolas member First Nations and the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network to support their goals and priorities in all these areas. Here are some of the current projects and activities that are underway.

Land Stewardship

Stewardship of Aweenak’ola requires information and knowledge about the state of the lands and the wildlife and plants on them,  understanding what is changing and why, planning ahead as to what needs to be done to keep Aweenak’ola healthy, keeping a watchful eye on what is happening in the Nanwakolas member First Nations’ traditional areas, and upholding and protecting Aboriginal rights related to Aweenak’ola.

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On the ground monitoring projects

We undertake research and monitoring projects to understand the state of important sites and resources within the territories over time. Bringing together cutting-edge scientific methods with longstanding local First Nations’ knowledge and experience, we look at what is out there, how things are changing, and why they are changing. What we learn helps support the member Nations in their decision making.

Monitoring grizzly bears

In 2018, Nanwakolas and the member First Nations’ Guardians began working with University of Victoria behavioural ecologist Dr. Melanie Clapham, whose research has focused on grizzly bear behaviour, to monitor the movements of these animals in their territories. Using fifty motion sensor-activated cameras set up across the territories, the teams were able to collect information that will help identify important habitat and movement corridors for the bears.


READ MORE about the bears and what we are learning

Cultural heritage work

The Lands Team have been working with the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network to carry out surveys around cultural sites where recent logging has taken place. We are assessing how well companies are complying with provincial and First Nation rules for protecting cultural sites, and how effective these rules are at protecting sites. This information will assist the First Nations in decision-making on future referrals, and in Nanwakolas Council’s collective advocacy work to protect Aboriginal rights.

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Large Cultural Cedar Project

The monumental Western Red Cedar, the “Tree of Life,” has come under increasing threat in the last few decades from logging and climate change. It’s becoming harder to find large cultural cedar trees big enough to carve canoes and totem poles and build big houses.

The Chiefs of the Nanwakolas member First Nations are parties to the Large Cultural Cedar Declaration, an operational protocol that creates new rules for safeguarding large cultural cedars during forestry activity.

The Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network Guardians are carefully monitoring the state of Large Cultural Cedar and the forests that support these trees. In addition, the Nanwakolas Lands Team is working with the Guardians to carry out surveys in the territories, in order to understand how many of the big trees are still out there. We are also:

  • Working with the member First Nations’ cedar carvers to create new methods for identifying large cultural cedars, and to develop training materials and programs to help Nanwakolas surveyors locate the trees in the territories.
  • Developing a cultural wood access program to help carvers and communities gain access to large cultural cedars when they need them.
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READ MORE about the Large Cultural Cedar Project

Policy and planning

Working with the member First Nations, the Nanwakolas Lands Team develops rules and plans to ensure that forest management in the territories aligns with the member First Nations’ views and interests. In some parts of the territories, forestry management is implemented according to the principles of what is known as ecosystem-based management, or EBM. The elements of EBM were developed during the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan process, from 1996 to 2003, and since then in government-to-government processes. 

EBM is different from the standard way in which the provincial government has managed forests previously because it considers interconnections between people and ecosystems. The Nanwakolas Council works with the provincial government on the implementation of EBM in the territories, including portions that overlap areas within the Great Bear Rainforest, consistent with the First Nations’ goals and plans.

We also work with the provincial government, on behalf of the member First Nations, to develop new regulations and policies through a shared decision-making process.

Our work includes:

  • Design and implementation of landscape reserves within the territories to be set aside for conservation, including as “Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas,” or IPCAs.
  • Collecting and interpreting information to support the member First Nations in making decisions about competing for land use objectives.

READ MORE about IPCAs and landscape reserve design

  • Working with the member First Nations and the provincial government to calculate sustainable harvest rates for forestry (that is, the “allowable annual cut,” or the maximum volume or number of trees that may be logged each year).

READ MORE about timber supply reviews and the allowable annual cut

From late 1996, First Nations who would eventually become members of the Nanwakolas Council participated collectively in the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan process, through an association between the Kwakiutl District Council, Musgamagw Tsawataineuk Tribal Council, and the Tlowitsis Nation.

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Conservancy Management Planning

Some of the Nanwakolas member First Nations have signed protected area collaborative management agreements with the Ministry of Environment (“MOE”).  In general, these agreements create a collaborative management structure between the relevant First Nation and MOE in respect of provincially created protected areas – calling for collaborative planning, management and use of protected areas.

The Nanwakolas Council is providing planning and advocacy support to the Mamalilikulla Nation and Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala First Nation regarding their protected area management agreements. Those services primarily focus on newly created conservancies within these First Nations’ traditional territories.  Decisions regarding the content of the plans remain with the individual First Nations, in collaboration with MOE.

These member First Nations have not ceded any authority or jurisdiction to the province of BC by signing these agreements, but, rather, they expressly assert that:

  • their Aboriginal rights, including aboriginal title, exist in their respective traditional Territories, including the protected areas;
  • the lands, waters and resources within their respective traditional territories belong to them and are subject to the collective rights of their respective citizens, and the sovereignty and the jurisdiction of each First Nation; and
  • their traditional territories have never been ceded, sold, or surrendered.

Through the collaborative management agreements, the Mamalilikulla and Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala First Nation seek to manage and protect the natural, cultural, spiritual, recreational and heritage resources in protected areas and to maintain and make use of them in a way that:

  • recognizes and affirms their Aboriginal rights;
  • respects the culture, traditions and history of the First Nation;
  • furthers the education and enjoyment of all people; and
  • provides economic benefits to the First Nations.

The conservancies that Nanwakolas Council and these member First Nations are currently addressing include:

  1. Qwiquallaaq/Boat Bay
  2. Broughton Archipelago Extension
  3. Burdwood Group
  4. Hunwadi /Ahnuhati – Bald
  5. Wahkash Point
  6. Dzawadi/Klinaklini Estuary
  7. Dzawadi/Upper Klinaklini
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