$60 Million Boost: BC Government Backs Indigenous-Led Stewardship of the Great Bear Sea

Coastal guardians are an exmaple of Indigenous stewardship
Coastal Guardians work to ensure that their ecosystem stays healthy, cultural values are preserved, and that the K’ómoks people are supported. Photo credit: Indigenous Guardians Toolkit

The BC government is doubling down on Indigenous-led stewardship in the Great Bear Sea, pledging $60 million to initiatives like Guardian programs and the Great Bear Sea MPA Network.

With the help of Coast Funds, this money will help create thousands of new stewardship and resource management jobs. With more Guardians patrolling our coast, supporting the biodiversity and strength of our marine ecosystems, BC can ensure the longevity of  coastal resources, resulting in sustained economic prosperity for coastal communities.

Indigenous Stewardship Has Paved the Way

The Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii conservation project sought to protect 6.4 million hectares of old-growth forest. With over 100 large valleys and numerous smaller ones, these areas support more biomass in valley bottoms than any other terrestrial ecosystem. Photo credit: Kathryn Burrington

The funds will be administered by the Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation (or Coast Funds), which previously oversaw the success of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii conservation project. The BC government had invested $30 million in the projects, which Coastal Funds was able to convert into a four-to-one return on investment, delivering $109.2 million towards 439 stewardship and economic development projects and leveraging an additional $296.8 million towards stewardship, businesses, and community infrastructure.

Importantly, these projects also saw the creation of 1,253 new permanent jobs in the process. The Great Bear Sea MPA Network will aim to use learnings from the Great Bear Rainforest project as a model for its sustainable finance approach.

From left to right: Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship; Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health; K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation and President of Coastal First Nations; Premier David Eby; Dallas Smith, President of Nanwakolas Council; and Eddy Adra, CEO of Coast Funds gathered in Vancouver on December 5th to share the landmark announcement, right on the heels of a recent survey that saw 93% of British Columbians across all political affiliations list marine conservation as a top priority for the future of BC’s coastal economy. Photo credit: Province of British Columbia on Flickr

Check out this West Coast Now article to learn more.