Partnering with First Nations

In support of broader, nation-wide efforts toward reconciliation, BC Marine Trails uses an approach of engagement, collaboration and partnership when working with First Nations. We are committed to ensuring that our work respects First Nations rights and title, and that Indigenous communities are participants in our efforts to shape sustainable paddling. Please read a “Guidance Toolkit for Engagement with Indigenous Communities” co-authored by the BC Marine Trails First Nations chair.

Collaboration with First Nations is essential in our  work, particularly in developing a marine trail network that respects Indigenous Rights and Title. Recognizing that past mapping of recreational sites lacked engagement with coastal First Nations, we’ve shifted our approach since 2019. We’re now reviewing all known sites with each coastal First Nation, aiming to transform coastal recreation into a practice that respects Indigenous Rights and Title. Our goal, in partnership with the Trails Development Committee, is to establish a coastal recreational resource with full approval from every coastal First Nation. We’re actively engaging with local First Nations to understand their preferences for marine trail sites, reduce user conflicts, and establish respectful visitation guidelines. Our evolving map reflects these ongoing dialogues, guiding visitors to approved sites and away from areas that are environmentally or culturally sensitive, ensuring alignment with both government and local stakeholder expectations.

Data Review

Our BC Marine Trails Map is our greatest resource for paddlers. We recognize that many of the sites paddlers have frequented for many years were established without prior First Nations engagement. A large part of our work is to collaboratively review all site data with First Nations to ensure we are not directing traffic to culturally, spiritually or environmentally significant sites. To date, we have worked with over 30 Nations to review publicly displayed and promoted data from our live web map. Reviewing data and ensuring that First Nations have the ability to direct recreational traffic in their territory is the first step to recreational land management and reconciliation. We have shared data and received feedback from these First Nations:

First Nations Site Review Process

1. Site Data Sharing

We provide a shapefile, kml or other geodata of all known recreation sites in your territory, including those not publicly displayed due to ecological or cultural concerns.

2. FN Data Review

The First Nation reviews this data against their internal archaeological and cultural layers and ranks recreation sites as good to go, discussion required and not for public use.

3. Discussion and Planning

We meet to discuss any sites of concern, as well as determine whether further work is required to identify new recreation sites to direct the public away from areas of concern.

4. Adaptive Review

We understand this is an ongoing process. If reviews are ever required or more information becomes available, we are happy to accommodate site reviews in light of new information.

5. Map Publication

Once we have worked through the review and created adequate safety measures, we will publish the agreed upon sites on our interactive map to direct recreation where you desire.

Joint Recreational Development

With over 15 years of experience developing marine routes and camping sites, we are well positioned to partner with First Nations looking to develop recreational opportunities in their territories.

  • Opportunities for sustainable recreational development of Haida territories
  • Joint site assessments with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis FN to assess recreational infrastructure needs and cultural impact mitigations for their territor
  • A pilot study with the shishalh FN to better understand the impacts that recreation has on their swiya (lands and waters)

We are always looking for opportunities to get our volunteers engaged with project that support Indigenous led development of their territories. If you have any questions or project areas to help improve your traditional territories, please contact us at fn@bcmarinetrails.org.

Drone shot of BC coast

Visitor Guidelines

Respectful recreation within a First Nations traditional territory is of the utmost importance. Preserving cultural heritage features can be critical for the continuity of cultural knowledge. Historically, recreation has paid little attention to what respectful recreation looks like around cultural features.

We have a number of programs that aim to educate coastal recreationists about how to respectfully recreate on First Nations territories.

Each Nation we work with is given the chance to display a message for recreationists about respectful recreation within their territory via our live map.

Frequent information may include where to pay visitation fees, closures, and other relevant considerations.

We developed general best practices for recreation on FN territories in collaboration with the Nanwakolas Council. This research helped inform our First Nations visitation component of the Code of Conduct.

We assisted the Marine Planning Partnership in developing their recreational considerations for First Nations territories.

Together with the Mamalilikulla First Nation, we established an arcGIS storymap about how to respectfully recreate within their territory. This will help visitors understand cultural considerations when recreating on Mamalilikulla territory and guide the public away from culturally and ecologically significant sites. Please check out our Visiting the Mamalilikulla Territory Story map here!

If you want to support our First Nations engagement program, please consider making a donation!