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This guide provides supportive materials to on-reserve Indigenous communities seeking to transform their housing systems to maximize local benefits and minimize economic, social and cultural leakage from their communities.

The standard model of residential construction is failing Indigenous communities on-reserve, leading to the overcrowding of homes, disrepair, health issues and cultural degradation. This situation perpetuates already drastic socio-economic inequity, as the high cost to heat poorly built and maintained homes keeps Indigenous families trapped in a cycle of energy poverty.

New housing projects offer incredible potential to achieve sustainable and equitable economic development, create meaningful livelihoods, and enhance cultural resilience on-reserve. Innovation is required to ensure that Indigenous communities are able to fulfil their development visions, while building dignified, culturally inspired and sustainable housing.

The information contained in this guide details an approach to developing a comprehensive baseline assessment that communities can use to assess their own readiness for transforming their housing systems into value-added, community development opportunities.

Additionally, a basic decision-making framework for self-determined housing is provided, as well as a financial resources guide along with other practical and useful information to assist Indigenous communities in thinking about how to transform their housing systems.

The North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) is a place-based initiative for people who are invested in the future of Prince Rupert to work together on tangible projects and initiatives that build a resilient economy as a tool for community well-being.

Prince Rupert is a coastal city of around 12,000 people in northern BC, historically dependent on resource-based activities and vulnerable to boom-and-bust economic cycles. It’s a microcosm for many remote communities dotted across Canada who are seeing increased unemployment as jobs move overseas, fewer benefits going to locals from the natural resources near them, the loss of young and educated people to urban areas, and seasonal employment.

In 2015, the City of Prince Rupert set an ambitious, modern vision for the city called Hays 2.0, and introduced a civic engagement process to develop and implement strategies for economic diversification and community resilience.

Integrating with this work, Ecotrust Canada launched the North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) in late 2017 to test how an intentionally designed social innovation lab can bring capacity, resources, creativity, and solutions to bear on the serious problems facing the community.

Our approach

Nathan Randall
Project Manager, North Coast Innovation Lab
(250) 624-4191

The NCIL draws on eight years of community-based work in Prince Rupert and our award winning three-year initiative in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the Local Economic Development Lab (LEDlab). Crucially, it has been adapted for a northern and municipal context and designed to reflect the unique opportunities, challenges, cultural context, geography, and people that make up Prince Rupert.

The NCIL is a place-based initiative for people who are invested in the future of Prince Rupert to identify, prioritize and work together on tangible projects that build and initiatives that build a resilient economy as a tool for community well-being.

 

It addresses the desire to innovate within constrained conditions by providing human capacity to advance ideas, a safe space for design and experimentation, and a supported process to develop and evaluate projects that enhance social and economic resilience in Prince Rupert. Within the community, it aims to work at multiple scales to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of the community problems and solutions
  • Strengthen community networks
  • Provide capacity & coordination for community-led projects
  • Collect ideas and share knowledge
  • Build community capacity for social innovation through workshops, partnerships, events, and interactive learning

Over three years, the NCIL aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Spark innovative, collaborative, community-led projects using Social Innovation Lab methodology to address complex systemic problems
  • Acknowledge, complement and activate existing community-wide development initiatives
  • Prototype and nurture small, rural and remote community partnerships with academic institutions
  • Develop student talent for social innovation in rural, northern and industry-dependent communities and economies
  • Enhance the capacity of new and existing businesses, community organizations, and local “champions” to realize their own potential
  • Build a culture of social innovation and collaborative community development within Prince Rupert

Our long term goal is to increase social and economic resiliency for the community of Prince Rupert.

Starting with a focus

After many conversations with the community, the NCIL will focus its first year on projects which:

  • Grow the local economy for fish and marine products in Prince Rupert
  • Enhance co-working, information sharing and resource sharing
  • Increase economic diversification through entrepreneurship
  • Create low-skill income generating opportunities through social enterprise

This will assist projects and initiatives that already have some support or momentum in the community, but would benefit from new networks, additional human capacity, research, coordination or business thinking.

For more info:
What is the North Coast Innovation Lab? The Northern View

Project insights:
CFTK TV News
: Recent results of the summer research around fostering the marine economy and enhancing co-working in Prince Rupert

Current roles available at the NCIL:

NCIL Project Coordinator: HSEDS Social Enterprise

NCIL Project Coordinator: Vertical Farming

NCIL Project Coordinator: Nisga’a Society Food Security

NCIL Project Coordinator: Redesign Rupert Downtown Redevelopment

Classes are led by Ecotrust Canada staff with extensive knowledge and skills in species identification, fish management objectives and fundamentals, fishing methods, and catch monitoring methods, roles, and responsibilities. As many of our trainers were once Observers themselves, they are familiar with the equipment, data collection methods, and best practices for working on fishing vessels and docks.

Since Ecotrust Canada is also actively working as either a service provider or in the role of business or policy development consultant in fisheries around North America, our trainers are also well-versed in current fisheries-specific management objectives and national fisheries regulations.

 

Community Benefit

Our training programs reinforce and continue to build local fisheries knowledge and capacity, with the goal of meeting the ongoing and future needs of First Nations, DFO, and the fishing industry.

Our experience working with these groups has informed the design of our training methodology and curricula; our courses meet DFO’s national standards and the fisheries specific requirements, as well as those of various First Nations fisheries programs.

 

Training for Other Needs

Observer training spans a wide range of fishery-related topics. The 11-day Comprehensive Course in particular has been used as a broad training base for current and prospective employees in a number of other positions:

  • First Nations Guardian Watchmen
  • Resource Management Staff
  • DFO Staff
  • First Nations Fisheries Technicians

 

Available Curricula

There are two different types of Observer Training Courses:  an 11-day comprehensive course designed to give students a solid foundation in fisheries monitoring and management and a 3-day fishery-specific training module designed to qualify students for employment as fishery Observers.

DFO requires a number of other certifications as a condition of employment. These certifications are not offered by our courses, but we can help students apply for them.

 

11-day Comprehensive Course

The 11-day training course takes place over the course of two weeks. The first week of the training course serves as an introduction to fish biology and fisheries management by addressing the following subjects:

  • Fisheries Management, Acts and Regulations
  • Catch Monitor/Observer Programs, roles and duties
  • Data collection and note-taking
  • Vessel types and fishing operations
  • Seabird and marine mammal classification
  • Vertebrate and invertebrate species identification
  • Fish classification and use of dichotomous keys
  • Rockfish and mackerel identification
  • Use of dissecting/sampling equipment and biological sampling methods (what, why, how) including:
    • Scale and DNA samples
    • Parasite samples
    • Fin ray & otolith removal
    • Aging structures
    • Length & weight measurements
    • Sex determination
  • Types of tags used in fisheries
  • General catch monitoring and estimation
  • General dockside weigh-out procedures
  • Chart reading and navigational understanding
  • Water sampling techniques
  • Navigation and weather

The second week of the course shifts to a more practical understanding of fisheries management and monitoring by covering the following topics:

  • Traceability, Mark Recovery, and Creel Survey Programs
  • Selective Fishing Methods
  • First Nation fisheries co-management and monitoring programs
  • Vessel Safety and etiquette
  • Hands on training
  • Fisheries Specific data collection and recording techniques

The second week also includes a field trip day so students are able to see fish plant and fishing vessel operations first-hand. During the trip, students gain hands-on experience with species identification and the use of scales, and get an opportunity to view different gear types. This field trip acts as a link between the general training and fishery-specific training.

Throughout the training course, students have the opportunity to seek out additional tutoring from Ecotrust Canada instructors, ensuring that all students gain the knowledge they need to succeed as fisheries Observers. The day before the final exam, training staff host a half-day tutorial/study session so that interested students can review any material as needed. An open book exam at the end of the 11-day course acts as a review and helps to prepare students for the DFO-moderated exam at the completion of training.

 

3-day Fishery Module

This course is designed for training individuals to become At-Sea and Dockside Monitors for a specific fishery. Course modules can be added to customize course curriculum. A salmon training course, for example, might include:

  • Salmonid life cycle and species ID
  • Salmonid dissection w/ external and internal anatomy
  • Use of dissecting/sampling equipment and biological sampling methods (what, why, how) including:
    • Scale and DNA samples
    • Parasite samples
    • Fin ray & otolith removal
    • Aging structures
    • Length & weight measurements
    • Sex determination
  • Fishery-specific vessels and fishing operations
  • Fishery-specific catch monitoring and estimation techniques
  • Fishery-specific dockside monitoring procedures

 

Certification Series

DFO designation requires that Observers hold a number of additional certifications. While Ecotrust Canada does not offer these training programs, we will work with individuals and groups in order to help them get access to these courses. These certifications include:

  • Basic offshore survival techniques training course approved by Transport Canada
  • Seafarers Medical Course with certificate
  • First Aid Certificate
  • Maritime Radio-Telephone Operators Restricted Certificate

 

Final Outcomes

The completion of either the 11-day or 3-day training course with a passing grade of 75% or higher will qualify students for Designated Observer status, and along with successful completion of required certifications will make them eligible for employment as Fisheries Observers.

During the financial crisis of 2009, forest tenures were abandoned and several mills shut down. The inevitable economic fallout that followed – jobs lost, businesses shuttered, services reduced – has haunted them since. Taking a leadership role, the Chiefs Forum went searching for an alternative economic model and determined that the values and approaches used by Ecotrust Canada to create conservation economies made sense.

In 2012, Ecotrust Canada worked with local municipalities, industry, and First Nations to gain agreement. In 2013, we published the economic analyses to back up our plan. In 2014-2015, we are working with the Elders to create a vision for their territory and will use this vision to drive the design of some new business activities that balance cultural, financial, social and ecological interests.

Glencore is one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies and a major producer and marketer of more than 90 commodities. The Group’s operations comprise of over 150 mining and metallurgical sites, oil production assets, and agricultural facilities. They serve industrial consumers, such as those in the automotive, steel, power generation, oil, and food processing, and provide financing, logistics, and other services to producers and consumers of commodities. With a strong footprint in both established and emerging regions for natural resources, Glencore’s industrial and marketing activities are supported by a global network of more than 90 offices located in over 50 countries, employing around 181,000 people, including contractors.

In 2014, the company’s Community Sustainability Initiative team for the Raglan nickel mine approached us to see whether we could assist with the implementation of their community engagement strategy.

Glencore is a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the International Council on Mining and Metals, as well as an active participant in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. According to Raglan’s Impact Benefit Agreement with the government of Quebec, the two communities adjacent to the mine, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq are to receive financial and technical assistance from Glencore to grow their local economies. In places of ice and isolation where people have lived off the land for generations, it was not entirely clear where and how to begin.

Six months later, Ecotrust Canada is working with a local entrepreneur to build his commercial fishing enterprise from harvest to market. Plein Nord’s objective is to provide fresh, local seafood to the communities of Nunavik, and to use the company’s operations as a training ground for local youth.

PICFI, AFS, the open market – there are a lot of options available to First Nations looking to invest in commercial fisheries. Yet few resources exist to guide communities in differentiating these opportunities and building a path toward robust sources of local income and employment. Seeking to address this gap, Ecotrust Canada has created a comprehensive fisheries planning program for BC’s coastal communities.

The program is anchored in community engagement. Communities invite us to facilitate town hall meetings between all local stakeholders. Fisheries managers and fishermen alike tell us what they want for the future of their fishery. What sort of industry do they envision? What licences should the Community Fisheries Enterprise pursue? How can the community best support its fishermen?

We then turn to our Fisheries Diversification Model. In the spirit of information democracy, the model makes commercial fisheries data – normally hard to find – accessible to the people who need it most. We have collected more than 100,000 data points on BC’s current and historical commercial fisheries from DFO, industry and academic publications, and interviews with fishermen. The model draws from this database to give communities an accurate, in-depth look at the economics of BC’s small-boat fleet.

Equipped with community insight, stakeholder direction, and cold hard data, we assess the community’s specific needs to determine the best course of action, keeping in mind:

  • Local needs and resources
  • Cultural appropriateness
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Economic sustainability

Our final product intertwines cultural knowledge and industry statistics to present a vision of a robust community fishing fleet – and a realistic path toward that goal.

With the Model Forest concept, Ecotrust Canada sees an approach that combines the social, cultural and economic needs of local communities with the long-term sustainability of large landscapes in which forests are an important feature. By design, Model Forests are voluntary, broad-based initiatives linking forestry, research, agriculture, mining, recreation, and other interests on a given landscape. As they take root, Model Forests develop governance and initiatives that align across multiple scales – from the local level through to international forest and social objectives.

Started by the Government of Canada at Rio in 1992, the International Model Forest Network has grown to over 60 sites in 23 countries. Everywhere they exist, Model Forests provide an umbrella vehicle for organizations and individuals to build social consensus around forest use, and establish a common program of activities to grow economic vitality based on a strong ecological foundation.

On Vancouver Island, the initiative invites organizations and businesses who want sustainable forests and sustainable communities for the long-term. As such, we are attracting stakeholders who want to collaborate on initiatives that will benefit the forest and people of Vancouver Island as a whole.

CURRENT ACTIVITIES

  • Completing a stakeholder survey identifying core issues on Vancouver Island.
  • Investigating the best ways to grow the value-add sector on Vancouver Island.
  • Analyzing the impact of regional decisions on forest and community economies, starting with lessons learned from Clayoquot Sound.
  • Assessing forest-related investment trends and opportunities on Vancouver Island.

CURRENT PARTNERS

  • Vancouver Island Economic Alliance
  • UBC Forestry
  • Iisaak Forest Resources
  • Tofino District
  • Tofino Chamber of Commerce
  • Private Forest Landowners Association
  • Canadian and International Model Forest Network

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At its core, the Fisheries Diversification Model is a decision-support tool for planning resilient fisheries. It allows users to explore historical fisheries data and current costs of business with an eye to the future. First Nations fishing communities in British Columbia are suffering and at risk of dying out due to a tangled net of interconnected challenges. Recognizing this, Ecotrust Canada has designed a new tool to help fishing communities figure out how to be more resilient. The model helps a community define and prioritize its objectives in pursuing fishery investments.

Are they trying to maintain cultural ties to traditional livelihoods? Do they want to increase employment within the community? Are they trying to build a more sustainable source of income? Or, with more established fisheries, do they simply want to evaluate their current risk exposure to overfishing and climate change and adapt accordingly? Using the Fisheries Diversification Model, a community can create a series of fishery scenarios and receive feedback on each scenario’s economic, social, and environmental performance. The tool can highlight which fishery combinations may result in higher profits and  employment with less vulnerability to environmental conditions. Through these scenarios, communities can better evaluate how well their decisions meet their short and long term objectives.

How it works

We introduce the Fisheries Diversification Model to communities that have recognized an opportunity for change and wish to design an individualized vision of a fishery suitable to their needs. Our tool incorporates a community’s own fisheries information with typically hard-to-find federal data and offers support in building on that vision.

Reflecting on the past

The tool is built on a solid foundation of fisheries data – possibly the most comprehensive Canadian fisheries database in the world. Ecotrust Canada undertook a monumental data gathering project, assembling more than 15 years of DFO catch records across all west coast fisheries. This database is accessed throughout the model and users can explore the changes in harvested weights and earnings in each fishery over time, using these historical trends to inform their understanding of current fisheries.

Understanding the present

Fishing is an expensive business. But which fisheries incur which costs? To find out, we held a series of interviews with commercial fishermen across the industry, learned about the specific costs of participating in each fishery, and verified the numbers against published reports. These operational costs are woven into the model and further inform users’ understandings of each fishery.

Looking to the future

The central purpose of the Fisheries Diversification Model is to guide and enrich important community discussions and decision making. It provides a unique opportunity for communities to interact with fisheries data in real time, allowing them to explore scenarios in detail and truly test their assumptions about what makes a successful fishery. To that end, the model features a number of tools to aid users in creating a list of objectives and evaluating proposed scenarios based on those objectives.

In crafting each scenario, the user can create a series of diversified fishery combinations which include various species, gear types, and geographic areas, and take into account things like seasonal timing, required equipment, and start-up costs.

Drawing on current financial data, the economic reports outline the costs and revenues associated with each scenario on both a boat-by-boat and fleet-wide basis. Users can examine the profitability of their chosen scenarios, distribution of wealth across the fleet, and judge the financial sustainability of their proposed fisheries. By merging financial data from the present with harvest data from the past, the Fisheries Diversification Model offers users a  methodical approach for anticipating future fishery trends. The future indicators report outlines the potential vulnerabilities and opportunities of each fishery on nine different criteria, from environmental risk to economic competition. Although they can’t really tell the future, the final indicator scores do give users a sense of each scenario’s potential sustainability over the long term and the potential risk associated with their proposed investments.

Many fish, many baskets

The model’s focus on diversification helps communities recognize any potential threats and reduce their exposure to risk. If a community is dependent on a single species, for example, that community’s fortunes rise and fall with that species. However, a community fishing a more diverse basket of fisheries is more resilient and better able to adapt in shifting environmental and regulatory conditions.

Past projects

We believe the Fisheries Diversification Model empowers communities to more effectively participate in the stewardship and governance of fishery resources and make informed decisions about their own futures. In that regard, Ecotrust Canada has begun a series of consultations with BC coastal communities, including the ‘Namgis and Nisga’a First Nations, providing guidance in the use of the model and informing decisions about fishery investments. So far, the model has supported a number of investment consultations and a treaty process for increased access to diversified fisheries.

Moving forward

The database at the core of this project is itself a powerful resource, one we plan to leverage in this and future projects to deepen our understanding of Canada’s west coast fisheries. We are continuously refining the design and operation of the model, making it more user-friendly and relevant to broader audiences. It is our hope that an eventual public release will enhance public understanding of fisheries science and join communities in important discussions about the future – one that provides meaningful work and good livelihoods, supports vibrant communities and cultures, and conserves and restores the environment.

As part of the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program ‘Qwii-qwiq-sap: Standing Tree to Standing Home’ initiative (Qwii-qwiq-sap meaning ‘transformation’ in the Nuu-chah-nulth language), the Green and Culturally Appropriate Building Design Project aims to help guide the building of homes for Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. The design of the homes will take into account cultural design elements such as the traditional long house design; use of local harvested materials such as cedar; geography, climate and community demographics. It has been estimated that there is a need for 200-plus homes to be built in the region over the next 40 years. Coupled with this is a desire to change how current homes are designed and built.

Read on to learn more or jump to the downloadable reports.

Learning from the past

In earlier times, “Buildings were constructed without nails,” recalls Earl Maquinna George, in Living on the Edge: Nuu-Chah-Nulth History from an Ahousaht Chief’s Perspective. “The timbers and boards fitted into grooves and were locked together at the corners so that they wouldn’t move in the wind. The siding of the buildings, made of cedar boards one to two inches thick … were buried in the sand and weighted down with the piles of rocks, and then set at an angle, leaning inward to the building. The roof was framed so that boards would fit partly on top of each other, overlapping all the way down. The builders were careful to start the roof boards from the southeast end of the building so that the wind had no force over the slope of the building. There were two holes towards each end of the building, at the north and south ends, for smoke to go through.”

George paints a picture of a house designed and created to be respectful to cultural traditions as well as being climatically appropriate and environmentally smart. These were homes that paid tribute to the region and culture, but at the same time were able to withstand the unique rainforest climatic conditions such as those found in Clayoquot Sound and the surrounding area. These homes took into account cultural traditions of accommodating multiple generations of families under one roof without sacrificing space.


Watch report on CBC’s The National

The Green and Culturally Appropriate Building Design Project aims to account for and support cultural traditions which worked so well for hundreds of years. We are working to create much-needed safe and comfortable homes, combining best practices and technologies with a respect for cultural needs, while still addressing current circumstances.

A necessary change

Why the need for this?

  • Weathering the climate: Nuu-chah-nulth communities are located in a temperate rainforest, which brings with it unique, rainy conditions. Many of the existing homes have not weathered this well, and are in dire need of replacement.
  • Climate change: Climate change projections show warmer, wetter winters, which will serve to increase problems of humidity and mould. Housing adaptation strategies are now more necessary than ever.
  • Housing statistics: Existing housing stock is under enormous pressure from a growing population. Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation populations have doubled in the last 10 years, but the housing supply has not grown with it.
  • Staying power: Indigenous peoples are deeply connected to place and committed to staying in their terri-tories. Homes that have equal staying power are required. Currently, poorly built homes last only around seven to 15 years where, really, 100-year homes are needed.
  • Recognizing health and wealth of tradition: There is an increasing resurgence of interest and belief in heritage and cultural knowledge and practices. By embracing their language, histories and traditions, the Nuu-chah-nulth have facilitated an awareness of past building methodologies.

Issues in existing housing this project hopes to address include water ingress and drainage; mould, mildew, fungus and air quality; crowded rooms and privacy issues; affordability; support for use of local materials and labour; and a deep cultural rootedness that sees families desiring to stay together and age in place. An important opportunity exists to smartly plan community growth with buildings suited for climate and culture, and respectful of both environment and community well-being.

Project goals

The project aims to engage the community and gather meaningful knowledge, concerns and observations from those who will actually be living in the homes. Our desire is not to impose standard housing solutions, but to listen to and learn from the community. In this way, we will derive a wish list that is unique and respectful to their community needs, their heritage and their territories. It will also support the use of local materials and labour. We are working with the Nuu-chah-nulth people to:

  • Design culturally relevant homes and other community buildings;
  • Ensure the design addresses energy efficiency, climatic conditions and affordability;
  • Support the region in implementing the design into their local policies and planning;
  • Identify innovative approaches to financing the construction of these homes;
  • Build capacities and partnerships that will support this vision.

Our approach

To achieve the vision of a green and culturally appropriate building design, created by and for the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, our work takes the following approach:

  • Discovery: Information and ideas gleaned in interviews with members of the communities.
  • Learning: Taking into account learnings from the past, from elders and local experts.
  • Appropriate building science: Working together to create comfortable shelters that recognize the importance of health and safety.
  • Green design: Respecting natural concepts, local resources and low-tech solutions.
  • Visioning: Increasing community awareness of how housing impacts their well-being and that of the regional economy.

Future solutions

An outcome of this project will be a prototype home-design, including working drawings.

  • The prototype design will be simple and flexible, allowing for expansion as a family requires. The roof will be pitched to overcome excessive rainfall issues, it will also be oriented to good solar exposure and aspect. This will also allow occupants opportunities to take advantage of passive green solutions such as solar water heating.
  • The home will be 1.5 to 2 storeys tall to encourage indoor air to circulate within. Cross ventilation will be a basic requirement for all rooms where layouts permit.
  • The home will be raised a couple of feet off the ground for further climatic  adaptability, but with easy access to the main floor.
  • The use of wood, a natural and time tested building material which is a good source of carbon sequestration, is promoted.
  • Wood will be obtained from local sources, such as the First Nations-owned, Forest Stewardship Council®-certified, Iisaak Forest Resources mill.

Partners

  • UBC School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture
  • ISIS, Sauder School of Business, UBC
  • David Wong, Architect
  • Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations: Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht, Yuutu?it?aht, Hesquiaht

Funders

RealEstateLogo

We are deeply grateful to the Real Estate Foundation of BC. Their support has served as the cornerstone for this process.

We also thank the following organizations for funding many of the summary reports that accompanied this work:

Community support

This project has already created much excitement in the region. We have been in discussions with two Nuu-chah-nulth families who have agreed to invest in building these model homes. Several others have also expressed interest in making this vision a reality.


   

Standing tree… to Standing home

Co-managed by Tla-o-qui-aht, Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, Yuutu?it?aht and Toquaht First Nations, together with Ecotrust Canada and the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program, Qwii-qwiq-sap focuses on building the conservation economy by empowering communities to define and create their own circles of wealth. Through the thoughtful integration of forest management, community design, value-added production, alternative technology development, construction and training, the initiative demonstrates how we can achieve the ideal of getting direct local benefits from regional resource extraction and use.

The Circle of Wealth

The five participating Nations are trying to solve the riddle of how to create jobs, social wealth and environmental health from resources in their territories. Resources that historically have been harvested to benefit far-away interests first. As the Ahousaht people explain the circle of wealth concept, “Step One is thoughtfully designing our forest practice so we can grow what we need. Step Two is harvesting timbers with our own building needs in mind. Step Three is designing our homes so they address our climate and cultural needs and so they make use of the products we know we can produce on the land. And Step Four is training our own people to manage the full cycle of activity, from forestry to construction so we gain ground at every level.”

Based on this principle, Qwii-qwiq-sap proposes a very different approach. The initiative will design homes with a view to weather, culture and energy efficiency. Architects and designers will incorporate materials and products that are locally available. The Nations will deploy their sawmills and artisans to produce value-added products to meet design specs. Timber harvesting will be targeted to produce logs for local housing. And on-site training programs will be introduced to ensure that local residents are able to compete successfully for the full range of associated employment opportunities.

Guiding principles

The Qwii-qwiq-sap initiative is one piece of a larger program being implemented by Ecotrust Canada and the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program to achieve a conservation economy. All our work is premised on the need to diversify the local economy, actively involve and engage local peoples, and use local labour and local materials for local needs. The guiding principles are to:

  • Take a subsistence approach to developing long-term opportunity;
  • Create and support the circle of wealth, allowing businesses and benefits to stayin the region and move towards resilience;
  • Support new business development;
  • Ensure that the demographics of ownership/benefit reflect the local population;
  • Facilitate collaboration between First Nations and non-natives;
  • Build shared infrastructure and collaborative institutions wherever possible.

Transformation in practice

Qwii-qwiq-sap is indicative of a unique kind of social innovation embedded in the cultural traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. Based on old and tested principles such as ‘take only what you need’ and ‘allow community values to dictate development’, the work aims to:

  • Maximize the value to the community of the timber harvested from their forest;
  • Design practical, more energy efficient buildings for the wet rural west coast;
  • Design homes that use local materials and that are green, affordable and culturally appropriate;
  • Start an education and training program that focuses on the ‘tree to home’ concept and builds the skills needed for the region to be resilient;
  • Promote training of local people in construction, providing jobs and income;
  • Increase capacity and technology to support value added wood products to be used in local homes and identify other market opportunities in the long-term;
  • Build an integrated policy framework to practically support adjacent resource use;
  • Design viable business planning for forest management approaches that will support local use of products;
  • Increase awareness of sustainable living to achieve results in waste reduction, water conservation, composting, etc;
  • Apply for funding and coordinate partnership building for short and long term sustainability of the project, assisting communities invest in themselves.

Looking to the future

Supporting all aspects of the circle of wealth is key to the success of this project. This includes helping to design forest management plans that see local markets integrated as a major driver in the business plan rather than as an afterthought; plans that would see local mills providing as much material as possible into local projects in a competitive manner and a pool of local people who are skilled tradesmen, sawmillers and forestry workers to actually do the work. To this end, Ecotrust Canada will continue to:

  • Help the Ahousaht mill produce materials for local buildings;
  • Assist completion of showcase homes built from local materials and labour;
  • Partner with ISIS Sauder School of Business UBC, UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp in the ‘Green and Culturally Appropriate Housing Design Project’, started in 2011;
  • Partner with FPInnovations to provide technical assistance to the milling businesses operated by Iisaak Forest Resources and Ahousaht First Nation, and with other First Nations’ long-term value added market opportunities, including opportunities to introduce a wood traceability project;
  • Support the Raincoast Sustainable Living Program to deliver well-researched, locally relevant, and practical information about sustainable living to communities, to increase understanding of environmental issues and provide tangible actions to make a difference;
  • Develop and distribute a report detailing the linkages and methodologies;
  • Work with people in place to create a model to be used as a blueprint in similar communities.

Partners

Working at the intersection of conservation and economic development to provide innovation and services to communities, we understand the importance of partnering with experts in industry, environment and community wisdom. In relation to the Qwii-qwiq-sap initiative specifically, we currently have valuable partnerships with:

  • Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations: Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht, Yuutu?it?aht,Hesquiaht
  • Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program (NETP)
  • Natural Resources Canada, Forest Communities Program
  • Ahp-cii-uk Community Society
  • UBC School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture
  • Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
  • North Island College
  • Vancouver Island University
  • Raincoast Education Society
  • ISIS, Sauder School of Business, UBC
  • FPInnovations

Funders

Ecotrust Canada and the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program continue to work with our partners to seek the funding needed to deliver the training required at local level for the success of this project. Training programs would offer courses such as: introduction to plumbing, introduction to electrical, introduction to carpentry levels one to four, residential maintenance program, milling, project administration/ management and heavy equipment operating.

We thank Natural Resources Canada, Forest Communities Program for their support to date.