What do you do when a region critical for spawning sockeye salmon is under threat? You protect it. It sounds simple. For the Gitanyow, though, it has been anything but.
So after four years of trying to work with the province, Hereditary Chiefs of the northwest B.C. First Nation are taking matters into their own hands with a plan to create a new Indigenous Protected Area.
The Gitanyow, in partnership with the province, signed a landmark agreement back in 2012 that led to the creation of a 24,000-hectare conservancy. But in the years since, the sockeye population in that area has declined amid temperature changes in creeks. Things are much better farther north, around Meziadin Lake, but there’s a catch: increased mineral exploration.
Climate change has caused glaciers to recede, and the exposed rock has brought more prospectors to Gitanyow territory. And because the area isn’t protected, B.C.’s ancient mining laws — seriously, they date back to the 1800s — allow any individual or company to stake a claim without needing to consult or get consent from the Gitanyow.
The Gitanyow emphasize that they’re not against mining — but they do want to have a say over what areas are off limits.
The potential benefits of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas extend far beyond Gitanyow territory. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce The Narwhal is hosting a Zoom event on May 4 to dive into how Indigenous-led conservation is critical if Canada wants to follow through on its climate and biodiversity promises.
We’ve assembled a powerhouse panel of experts at the forefront of Indigenous conservation efforts in Canada and even have a special guest from Australia, where Indigenous leadership has helped the country reach its international conservation commitments.
There are only 1,000 spaces available and, if our recent events are any indication, they’ll fill up fast. Go here to RSVP today.