Developing a strategic land use plan can be a powerful way for Indigenous nations to exercise their inherent title and treaty rights. By “translating” principles of Indigenous law and the wisdom of their Elders into maps and written rules, nations can communicate strategic direction about land and water use in their territories.
Through negotiations with the Crown, strategic land use and reconciliation agreements implemented in both provincial and Indigenous law have advanced ecological and human well-being goals in some parts of the province, particularly in coastal First Nations, Haida and Gitanyow territories. Many British Columbians also participated in strategic land use planning in the 1990s for other parts of the province.
Provincial law and policy currently present barriers to respecting, implementing and enforcing the outcomes from strategic land use planning processes. Furthermore, many plans need to be updated to reflect best available science and Indigenous knowledge, as well as the realities of climate change. Law and policy reform is essential to remove these barriers and implement an ecosystem-based framework for land use planning that deals honourably with Aboriginal title and rights and upholds Indigenous law.