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.

Working together with First Nations is an integral part of our BCMT work. As we establish a marine trail network, respectful engagement and listening is a way to give back in the process of reconciliation. We acknowledge that the majority of sites used by recreationists were mapped without any consultation or engagement with Coastal First Nations. As an organization, we decided to retroactively review current known use sites with each individual First Nation. Current issues are address and we aim to provide consistent engagement, which enables dialogue. Information about proposed marine trail sites is shared and discussed in a respectful manner. Where possible, agreements are reached to confirm public access to sites within a First Nation’s traditional territory, while guiding the public away from environmentally sensitive or culturally important sites. Sharing information supports our mutual belief in collaborative stewardship, and benefits First Nations initiatives. Check out how we work with different communities below.

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

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!