Work and Climate Change Report

First Nations provide a model for activism and for sustainable development

Headlines most often go towards legal efforts or protests  of First Nations to block pipelines and  development  – most recently,  against the Site C dam in B.C.  and the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in the U.S.  But until the September  visit by British royalty prompted  articles in the  Globe and Mail  and Macleans magazine ,  few people knew about  the sustainable economic development efforts of the  First Nations of Haida Gwaii  on the B.C. coast.  Significant projects have been funded by  Coast Funds ,  a partnership of private foundations and  the B.C. and Canadian governments.  Founded in 2007 with a  mandate to invest to strengthen the well-being of First Nations and the ecological integrity of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii regions,  Coast Funds has approved over $70 million towards 297 conservation and sustainable development projects in the region.  Their website   provides statistics – for example, that  First Nations have created 501 permanent new jobs held by First Nation community members through projects supported by Coast Funds  ( equivalent to 9% of the working age population of First Nations ). Perhaps more importantly, the case studies provide models of sustainable community economies based on  ecotourism , a  sustainable fishery ,  and sustainable forestry .

Similar benefits are described by the T’Sou-ke Nation at their website, describing their solar and ecotourism initiatives since 2008.  And  Greenpeace also recently profiled a First Nations solar project in Alberta, in  “Louis Bull First Nation is Making a Solar Transition” .