Good for the Land, Good for the People, Good for the Economy: A Call to Action to Recognize, Support and Implement Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and Indigenous Guardians in British Columbia

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (“IPCAs”), Indigenous Guardians, Indigenous Laws, Indigenous-led Conservation
Estella White – hińačačišt, Staff Lawyer

The Discussion Paper is the result of an Indigenous-led engagement process led by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, with the support of the First Nations Energy and Mining Council and West Coast Environmental Law. The paper reflects the interests and priorities of BC First Nations and presents the urgent need for BC and Canada to recognize, support and implement IPCAs and Indigenous Guardians in BC, and sets out the path forward through a series of key recommendations for action.

The Discussion Paper is comprised of 4 main parts:

  • First, it sets out a collective vision for Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship in BC and offers IPCAs and Indigenous Guardians as a model to achieve that vision;
  • Second, it outlines the harm that has been caused and continues to be caused by BC’s approach to both Indigenous rights, as well as land and resource management in BC;
  • Third, it offers a look at how IPCAs and Indigenous Guardians are proven Indigenous-led conservation models that create wide-ranging benefits for the land, the people and the economy, pointing to evidence that shows: how Indigenous approaches to caring for the land are more effective, leading to healthier lands, waters and higher rates of biodiversity; how IPCAs and Guardians enhance the social, cultural and economic well-being of Indigenous communities and beyond; and how IPCAs and Guardians are good investments that yield immediate economic benefits, significant returns on investment, and lead to more stable and diversified economies; and
  • Lastly, the paper offers key recommendations to BC and Canada on how it can begin the process of undoing the harm to properly recognize and uphold Indigenous rights through the proper recognition of IPCAs and Indigenous Guardians, which requires restoring the role of First Nations in determining the future and well-being of their own traditional territories.

Call to Action: the Discussion Paper offers a call to action in particular to the BC government to take steps to implement the recommendations to formally recognize, support, and implement IPCAs and Indigenous Guardians in BC. The BC First Nations Summit, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and the BC Assembly of First Nations have all joined in the call to action and have passed resolutions calling upon BC to implement the recommendations set out in the Discussion Paper and to take steps towards meaningfully recognizing, supporting and implementing IPCAs and Indigenous Guardians in BC.

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