B.C. supports First Nations to restore land, ocean, traditions

August 2, 2022 at 9:49 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

New provincial funding is helping First Nations clean up marine debris along the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest and create opportunities for lasting change through community awareness and education.

The Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative received an additional $1 million from the Province’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters (CCCW) initiative, bringing its total CCCW funding to nearly $3.5 million.

“Our partnerships with Coastal First Nations are essential to the success of the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative and cleaning up plastics pollution,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “As the largest shoreline cleanup in B.C.’s history, it is restoring and protecting sensitive marine ecosystems, creating jobs and leading to a healthier future for people. This new funding will also support youth education, helping strengthen Indigenous stewardship and connection to land and sea throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.”

The Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative brings together nine First Nations living on B.C.’s North and Central Coast, and Haida Gwaii. Their goal is to protect ecosystems through sustainable management practices and improve the quality of life for these communities.

Previous CCCW funding has focused on shoreline debris removal, debris recycling and disposal, and youth engagement. Youth engagement has involved Elder mentorship, training and rediscovery programs, as well as learning about food security while integrating science and technology.

“It is great to see additional investment in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative, which is supporting a healthy marine environment and the long-term sustainability of First Nations along the North Coast,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “Restoring one of the most beautiful places in the world benefits all of us.”

The 2022 funding will connect this work with an educational component. Youth will learn to take care of their territory according to their traditional culture. They will learn to collect and record data to monitor for new debris according to the latest scientific standards, form partnerships with external organizations, increase recycling and community awareness, and create opportunities for food security.

“The shoreline cleanup projects in our territories have helped restore our marine environment, provided training and jobs to community members and youth, and reinforced our lead role as stewards of the land and sea,” said Christine Smith-Martin, CEO, Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative. “This additional funding will focus on passing on our culture, values and traditional knowledge to the younger generation.”

CCCW is an important part of the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan. Its goal is to address plastic pollution. It is also part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes the StrongerBC economic plan that protects health and livelihoods, supports businesses and communities, and creates a low-carbon economy.

Quick Facts:

  • To date, the Clean Coast, Clean Waters funding provided to Coastal First Nations has resulted in:
    • 911 kilometres of shoreline cleaned;
    • 9,928 kilometres of coastline patrolled;
    • 39 tonnes of marine debris removed; and
    • 149 shoreline jobs.

Learn More:

For more information about the Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative, visit: coastalfirstnations.ca

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