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Join us in Citizen Based Reconciliation on the BC Coast

What it means and how you can participate in establishing respectful relationships with British Columbia Coastal Indigenous / First Nations communities.

“Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives – within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments…. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.”

Imagine paddling through the serene waters along the breathtaking coast where every cove and inlet has a story, every island a deep history. Many of the known recreation sites BC Marine Trails (BCMT) promotes via their public and member maps are frequented by paddlers and small boaters for launching, stopping, resting, and camping were once villages, harvesting areas, and spiritual sites of the Coastal Indigenous/First Nations communities. All of these lands and waters have been occupied, stewarded, and cherished by Indigenous Nations for thousands of years before the arrival of non-Indigenous people. Sites used by recreationists are only available due to the dispossession of Indigenous Peoples from the land.

BCMT recognizes the deep-rooted rights and titles of all 74 First Nations on the coast. Since 2016, when our First Nations Engagement Committee was established, BCMT has been at the forefront among outdoor recreation organizations, championing the cause of Reconciliation within the recreational community. We’re not just acknowledging the past; we are actively collaborating with and seeking concurrence from First Nations to understand clearly how and where our user base can recreate responsibly and with consent.

What is Citizen Based Reconciliation?

The commitment to collaboration is the foundation for what we call Citizen Based Reconciliation. It involves each one of us—non-Indigenous and Indigenous alike—changing our perceptions, attitudes, and ultimately, our actions to heal the wounds of the past. Each member of the recreational community has the potential to move toward perceptions and actions that actively uphold Indigenous Rights and Title as they interact directly with a Nation’s territory. Together, we can change the recreational landscape from one of assumed allowance to a culture that upholds Indigenous Rights and decisions about their lands and waters.

While governments play a significant role in recognizing Indigenous peoples’ rights through treaties and legislative adjustments, true reconciliation requires everyone to seek ways to contribute. It needs the active participation and commitment of every citizen. This is where you come in. Your involvement can accelerate and amplify our collective efforts to understand and participate in wider reconciliation activities.

How does BCMT facilitate this journey?

We understand that there isn’t a capacity for every paddler to have a direct conversation with each Nation or community they wish to paddle in. Instead of each paddler reaching out, we seek concurrence on behalf of the community directly from Indigenous rights and title holders for the use of coastal sites for human-powered recreation, which provides an opportunity for you, the citizen paddler, to contribute to changing societal views. However, we have only done the first step, the next steps to upholding Indigenous Rights and Title falls on the individual paddlers in our community.

What can you do to participate in Citizen-Based Reconciliation?

Commit

Make a personal pledge to honour and respect the underlying First Nations rights and titles on the BC Coast. Ensure that your actions and camping behaviour are in line with each Nation’s management directives

Lead

Be a leader in the outdoor recreation community; learn about and discuss Indigenous issues with your peers. Speak up and speak out about the importance of respect and relations with First Nations.

Educate Yourself

Before paddling, take steps to learn about the Indigenous communities and territories in which you will visit. Read the growing information available at each site on the BCMT Map.

Support

Many Indigenous communities have set up Guardian and Stewardship programs that actively take care of their lands and request small fees for our visitation. Their requests for financial support are small compared to the extraordinary benefit we all receive through their stewardship.

Respect Guidelines

Use only sites that have been approved, following visitor guidelines, and adhere to the BCMT Marine Code of Conduct.

Utilize the BCMT Map

We are working towards 100% concurrence with all coastal First Nations on sites publicly available on our site.

Embark on this journey with us; your voice and actions are crucial in forging a path toward a harmonious future. Together, we can bridge gaps, foster understanding, and build respectful relationships.

Join BCMT in this vital effort:

Norman Marcy

Norman Marcy has kayaked on the Coasts or BC, Alaska and the Russian Bering Strait over the past 45 years. He has training and expertise as a natural resources management and policy and dispute resolution specialist. Further his 25 years experience as a negotiator and First Nations engagement specialist for governments and industry has contributed to the efforts of BCMT to develop our approach to First Nations engagement and our early recognition of rights and title as a core tenant of the work we do.