Our Work with First Nations
First Nations have paddled the coast of B.C. since time immemorial and we owe them a great debt today for many routes, techniques and technologies they developed.
Because of this as well as the broader nationwide movement towards reconciliation, BC Marine Trails (BCMT) has chosen an approach through consultation, collaboration, and partnership. BCMT is endeavouring to ensure the work of our many volunteers and members is done with full respect to First Nations rights and values. This is reflected in both our Mission Statement and Core Values, laid out in our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan.
Work has included forming a First Nations Working Group made up of volunteers who meet regularly to continuously improve our efforts to work with First Nations. To help support this, the BCMT hired a First Nations Liaison with financial support from the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and other partners. The job of the liaison is to help coordinate communications and site data with First Nations and build long lasting relationships and where possible to reach agreements on the use of many sites along the coast.
BCMT also believes that the paddling community has much to gain from building relationships with the Indigenous communities in whose territories we paddle. These benefits come in many forms:
- Developing a sense of camaraderie and partnership with First Nations Communities;
- Completing the baseline work to reduce or eliminate confrontations while pursuing our activity of choice.
- Developing a track record with governments that demonstrate our engagements are meaningful and complete.
- Assisting the Crown governments knowing that BCMT accomplished an adequate job of consulting and building relationships so that when the Crown needs to make decisions that would favour BCMT some of the ground work is there. As a result the Crown’s obligation may be able to be discharged more expeditiously.
- When BCMT makes arrangements with FNs outside of Crown decision-making, this may lead to near term levels of greater certainty over site use then if BCMT, and First Nations wait for Governments.