‘Namgis First Nation and B.C. Government Sign Modernized Land Use Agreement Consistent with UNDRIP

‘Namgis First Nation has signed an agreement with the B.C. government that details a modernized land-use plan to manage the integrity of the ecosystems and natural resources in ‘Namgis territory.

The agreement between the two governments establishes collaboration between ‘Namgis First Nation and British Columbia on the land use plan that will oversee how resources and lands, rivers, lakes, watersheds and forests should be managed on the Gwa’ni project lands. The land-use plan covers areas from the Nimpkish River to Vernon Lake and helps ensure that the Province proceeds with the project in a manner that is consistent with the implementation United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP).

The process will also support the economic and social well-being of ‘Namgis, communities and stakeholders who use and rely on the resources contained in the project area.

The Gwa’ni Project area covers over 166,000 hectares which includes the Upper and Lower Nimpkish Landscape units. The next step in the Gwa’ni Project will be community and stakeholder consultation in spring 2021.

In 2018, B.C. dedicated $16 million over three years to modernize land use planning to help advance reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities, support economic opportunities, and make sure the stewardship of provincial public land reflects the diverse values and interests of all British Columbians.

All members of the Nation will have an opportunity to engage in the process, symbolizing a significant step for the Nation towards restoring authority over long-term decisions made on behalf of First Nations lands and territories.

Sean Jones of MLT Aikins acted as counsel to ‘Namgis First Nation in coming to the agreement.