Do you feel the wave of change?
This year, we returned to work in person and in communities with our many innovative partners. It’s been incredible to be a part of the rising tide, this bubbling, frothing, thunderous wave, pushing forth new ideas and ways to challenge the status quo. Every project we work on is riding that wave of change by taking part in solutions, such as housing on Indigenous lands, clean home energy systems, sustainable fisheries, regenerative ocean farming, forest carbon offset projects, seed libraries, and pushing for just and equitable policies in fisheries and for home energy.
Here’s a month-by-month highlight reel on the work we’re proud to be a part of.
- We laid the groundwork for so much to come throughout the year. Check out this blog for a brief on who we are, what we do, and our 2022 projects.
- Our Fisheries policy team travelled to Newfoundland for the 4th World Small Scale Fisheries Conference. Director of Community Fisheries, Racheal Weymer, presented about the need for the federal government’s Blue Economy Strategy to create and support policies that protect and enhance local economic benefits, and build more sustainable socioecological systems in coastal fishing communities.
- Climate Innovation Project Manager, Michelle Connolly, presented and authored the First Nations Carbon discussion paper that provides information and promotes dialogue on carbon, First Nations’ rights, how carbon offsets work, and how First Nations can benefit from them.
- As the Haíɫzaqv Nation celebrated the adoption of its Community Energy Plan, our Energy team joined as guests in Wágḷísḷa (Bella Bella, British Columbia). This year, the Heat Pump Project — one of 10 Climate Solutions in the Plan — installed another 105 heat pumps, bringing the community total to 259. To learn more, read the blog I wrote on How the Haíɫzaqv Nation is taking centre stage on community-led climate action after speaking with Leona Humchitt, Haíɫzaqv Climate Action Coordinator and Tribal Councillor.
- Dyhia Belhabib, founder of Spyglass a public database on crimes committed at sea, travelled to the Philippines and Vietnam, where she participated in maritime security and enforcement training, an initiative organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
- The Indigenous Home-Lands team visited the Nuxalk Nation, Bella Coola, BC, to discuss our new partnership exploring and implementing solutions that address housing and homelands challenges.
- A budding seed-saving project kicked off with an online workshop for Northwest BC communities. Ecotrust Canada, Farm to School BC, and Short Season Seeds, presented the basics of seed saving. We introduced the Northwest BC seed library and connected with folks interested in loaning seeds once the library is established. Read more about it in this blog.
- The Community Energy team and our partners delivered recommendations to the BC Government around replacing the Customer Crisis Fund, a program for customers facing a temporary financial emergency, and broader opportunities to strengthen bill protections for lower-income customers.
- In February, the first kelp babies were seeded alongside scallops at Metlakatla’s regenerative ocean farming pilot project. Two lines of sugar kelp were planted. The yield was anticipated to be small due to the late planting. When it was time to harvest the crop in May, we were surprised by the 1,560 pounds of kelp pulled from the ocean. The product was processed and stored to share with Metlakatla community members and local food providers to explore product opportunities for kelp.
- The Energy Advisor Training Program launched with seven Indigenous participants based in remote West Coast communities. The first in-person class training was in Port Hardy, within the traditional territory of the Kwakiutl First Nations. Once certified, the new energy advisors will provide guidance to homeowners in improving energy efficiency and accessing federal funding for undertaking energy retrofits for their homes.
- The Food Systems team held two gardening workshops with Hecate Strait Employment Development Society’s settlement centre for newcomers. Over the summer, the team helped with the success of their urban farm, where they grew kale, beans, peas, and lettuce, and held a gathering around food to celebrate the harvest.
- The new Indigenous Housing and Homelands Toolkit went live on our website. The toolkit is designed to support First Nations exploring how to meet their housing needs in a culturally appropriate and meaningful way for their communities. Check it out. There are downloadable modules, worksheets, and a contact form.
- Our South Coast fisheries monitoring team conducted two training courses, resulting in 18 federally designated monitors in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (Tofino), Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation (Gold River), and Ehattesaht/Chinehkint First Nation (Zeballos) for the precedent-setting Five Nations Fishery. These local dockside monitors collected fisheries data with care and respect, following rules and regulations set by the Five Nations and federal government.
- Chief Impact Officer, Celine Trojand, took part in witnessing and upholding the decision at the Gwininitxw Feast, where the Gitxsan asserted sovereignty over their ancestral lands — Maxhla Didaat and Galaanhl Giist, a 170,000-hectare area in the upper Skeena watershed — that will be protected to ensure the future health of their land, culture, and communities. Read her blog about the feast here.
- Our North Coast fisheries team, based in Prince Rupert, BC, provided dockside and at-sea monitoring services for the largest sockeye salmon return in recent history. The team worked around the clock in three different sockeye fisheries, seeing nearly 50 fishing vessels from July to August. We ensured that federal fisheries data standards, and the data-collection needs of our local commercial and Indigenous fisheries partners, were met. Watch a short video on what our at-sea observers saw during a trip.
- From our Northwest BC Food Systems program, we grew 340kg of produce at the downtown urban farm location and the Charles Hays Secondary School greenhouse. This food was harvested and offered as a donation to the community and sold at the Kaien Island Seaside Pop-Up Market on August 27. Proceeds from produce sales went back to the high school’s garden program. We’re planning another market in 2023, so stay tuned!
- The Indigenous Home-Lands team led the planning and facilitation of a Tŝilhqot’in Nation housing retreat, with select representatives from the six Tŝilhqot’in communities and the Tŝilhqot’in National Government. The retreat represented the first opportunity to bring housing representatives together to address the challenges faced with implementing the investment strategy and how to collectively develop solutions toward a long-term Nation-level approach to Tŝilhqot’in housing. Watch the video here.
- The Fisheries policy team members travelled to Italy as part of the Slow Fish Canada delegation in Terre Madre, an International Slow Food Conference. Our team hosted a workshop on how to protect local food systems — focusing on seafood, fishing communities, and healthy ecosystems. We dug into what has worked (and not worked) in Canada, and how like-minded groups doing small local projects around the world can make an impact. Check out this video Slow Food Mobilizes Against Ocean and Land Grabbing.
- Student engagement was high during a series of food workshops held in Prince Rupert schools on Coast Ts’msyen Territory. We coordinated sessions for garlic planting, fall garden bed prep, and a seed-saving seminar with Short Season Seeds. We can’t wait for students to watch their garlic grow throughout the seasons. Watch the seed-saving video here.
- Two members of our Climate Innovation team attended the Assembly of First Nations 2nd Annual Gathering for Climate Change. Michelle Connolly and Rebecca Rogerson presented a toolkit designed to support Nations pursuing Natural Climate Solutions, a project their team has been working on in partnership with the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations. Read Rebecca’s reflections on the conference here.
- Seven months into the Energy Advisor Training Program, the participants conducted their first home energy audits on Coast Ts’msyen territory in Prince Rupert, BC, with support from their trainers. We shared an update on the program and its timeline in this blog.
- The Fisheries policy team collaborated with the members of the Fisheries for Communities Network to launch its new website.
- In November, Climate Innovation Director, Joseph Pallant, presented virtually at COP27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, on our work with communities to deliver templates for Indigenous communities and others to develop carbon offset projects. Here is a brief on what he had to say.
- We announced a new project in the Yukon! An Indigenous Home-Lands housing project concept was shortlisted in the Northern Housing Supply Challenge. In 2023, we will be working with Southwest Yukon-based partners to develop a blueprint for a Housing and Building Supply Cooperative.
- A new home energy retrofit program is coming for the Regional District of Mount Waddington on North Vancouver Island, where we have been exploring retrofit opportunities, barriers, and financing options for residents. We are designing a program that will scale up residential home energy upgrades for 100-200 households in the region annually.