As we wrap up 2023, we’re reflecting on a year of remarkable achievements and impactful stories that have shaped our journey toward building an economy that provides for life. Join us in celebrating the collective efforts of our dedicated team, partners, and the communities we serve.
Below is our yearbook of highlights from each of our five priorities: Community Fisheries, Climate Innovation, Food Systems, Indigenous Homelands, and Community Energy.
- Kicking off the new year, we shared our “Framework for Advancing Reconciliation,” a plan to be a more active participant in reconciliation in all our work. We are committed to evolving and updating this framework as we learn and grow from our successes as well as our mistakes.
- Ecotrust Canada shifted to a four-day work week. Our President and CEO, Chuck Rumsey, shared what he really thought when someone first suggested introducing the four-day work week, and what changed his mind.
- CLIMATE — We published a new paper titled “Advancing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) through Carbon Financing.” There are currently no active IPCAs financed by carbon projects within Canada. We believe that Indigenous communities play a crucial role in natural climate solutions, and this paper aims to bring more clarity to First Nations communities curious about achieving carbon offset projects in Canada.
- FISHERIES — We helped facilitate the third Fisheries for Communities Gathering in Victoria, BC, on Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ territories. Over 160 people attended the event, including fish harvesters, First Nations leaders, academics, NGOs, industry associations, policy experts, and federal and provincial politicians. A seafood feast was provided on the first evening, bringing together six BC chefs who served a delicious spread of BC wild seafood harvested locally by small-scale fishers. Read the Proceedings Summary Report here.
- HOMELANDS — The team was invited to an Indigenous housing gathering in Wendake, Québec, on Huron-Wendat territory. The gathering centred on Yänonhchia’ (yah-NON-shee–ya), exploring the possibility of a national Indigenous housing finance network. Our team presented the Indigenous Housing and Homelands Governance Toolkit, a growing resource for First Nations in meeting the housing needs of their communities. Check out the team’s reflections in their blog and video.
- FOOD SYSTEMS — We toured Metlakatla First Nation’s regenerative ocean farm to monitor the kelp growth in three sites. We found signs of healthy progression from the winged and sugar kelp. Check out the video here.
- ENERGY — The team submitted a list of four justice-based policy recommendations to the BC Government that will help significantly reduce energy cost burdens for low- and middle-income households. Read their recommendations here.
- FOOD SYSTEMS — Ecotrust Canada co-facilitated a spring pop-up market that saw over 600 people attend to check out local artisans, bakers, musicians, seedlings, and seaweed fertilizer. In preparation for the market, the team processed 900 lbs of kelp, grown on the regenerative ocean farm with Metlakatla First Nation, and turned it into fertilizer for local and regional growers. The fertilizer was distributed at the Kaien Island Seaside Pop-Up Market on Saturday, April 29, in Prince Rupert on Coast Ts’msyen Territory.
- ENERGY — We hosted Canada’s first Energy Justice Forum on April 12. Over 80 attendees came together in Vancouver, BC, on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Territories and envisioned an end to energy insecurity. The agenda focused on British Columbia, where low-carbon home retrofits, energy affordability, and extreme heat resilience are increasingly seen as critical and holistic policy issues. The Energy team also published two new reports on improving tenants’ rights and paving the way for equitable decarbonization.
- FISHERIES — On the West Coast of Vancouver Island, we reassembled our experienced Indigenous and locally-based fisheries observer team for the season to work on the docks supporting the Five Nations fishery. In April, we held our first training session on the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (Tofino) for dockside monitoring of salmon, groundfish, and gooseneck barnacles. We also held a refresher course on DNA sampling and detecting coded wire tags at the dock for Suuhaa (Chinook) and Cuwit (Coho). This wet and windy training session was followed by our first groundfish offload of the season! New staff shadowed offloads over the next few weeks before being fully designated as Dockside Validators. Once designated, they spent the season monitoring fishing offloads and ensuring the sustainability of the fishery while supporting the economic and cultural needs of the Five Nations.
- FISHERIES — On May 11, Tasha Sutcliffe, Senior Policy Advisor for Community Fisheries, gave a compelling testimony to the Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) for their study on the corporate concentration of fishing licences and quota in West Coast fisheries. Read (or watch) her rationale on why federal regulators need to focus on creating fleet separation and owner-operator rules to help control how the benefits of our resources flow. Also, in May, an article was published on some of the work Community Fisheries Director Racheal Weymer has been doing with researchers to explore ways that basic universal income could strengthen our fisheries.
- ENERGY — 15 heat pump installations were completed in Hupačasath First Nation. Most of the heat pumps were prioritized for Elders’ homes that had ineffective or expensive heating. After this successful phase of installations, the project will seek funds to complete additional work in 2024 and beyond.
- We shared our Annual Report 2022; some said it’s our most visual yet. If you haven’t taken a look yet, here it is.
- HOMELANDS — The team published “From Forest to Frame: A Resource for First Nations Exploring a Do-It-Yourself Approach to Housing.” It highlights examples of DIY housing approaches that have been working for some rural First Nations communities, and discusses key concepts, challenges, and best practices.
- FOOD SYSTEMS — Working with Metlakatla First Nation’s aquaculture team, we harvested over 10,000 lbs of sugar and winged kelp. We gave 5,475 lbs of fresh kelp to farmers in Northern BC to use as a nutrient-rich fertilizer this summer, froze 3,975 lbs to make a liquid fertilizer for the 2024 growing season, and dried, powdered, flaked and vacuum sealed 1,250 lbs of kelp to develop food products for future sale (reach out to us if you’re interested in accessing some in Northwest BC). The team also left half a dozen long lines in the water to continue serving as a year-round habitat and food for all life in the ocean. Watch the video.
- ENERGY — We led a call to the BC Government, represented by 24 labour, academic, industry and First Nations organizations, asking that a free heat pump program be introduced for lower-income households in BC. Read the letter here.
- CLIMATE — Team members spent a week in Chapleau, Northern Ontario, with our long-time partners, Wahkohtowin Development, at their beautiful Innovation Centre. While we were there, we learned how to build a 12-foot traditional birchbark canoe with Wahkohtowin Guardians and community members. The time in community helped rebuild this important relationship and find ways we can support their mission of developing a conservation economy. We were so honoured to have been invited and to have been so warmly welcomed – Chi Miigwetch! Watch our short video.
- FISHERIES — Transparency in fisheries around the world must empower local communities to make informed decisions about the fate of their own resources. In July, Dyhia Belhabib, Principal Investigator of Fisheries at Ecotrust Canada, co-authored this article on fisheries transparency in The Conversation.
- FISHERIES — The North Coast fisheries team played a role in kicking off the Dungeness crab season on the Hecate Strait in the Area A crab fishery. Before the crab season opened, we trained a select group of fish harvesters in softshell data collection, and then we provided an at-sea observer for one of the softshell survey trips. The shell hardness determines when the Dungeness crab fishery is ready to open. This practice ensures that the crabs are not harvested while in their vulnerable moulting phase when they are too soft for the market. By testing the fishery before opening the season, the fish harvesters maintain a healthy, sustainable future for the Dungeness crab fishery in the Hecate Strait.
- HOMELANDS — Our new program director, Ashli Akins, shares her vision for the initiative, which begins with a holistic focus on well-being. The initiative aims to break down barriers that prevent community members from being able to return to and thrive in their homelands. Learn more here.
- FISHERIES — Over the fishing season on the West Coast, we employed 19 locals to deliver regionally tailored fisheries monitoring and data collection services. Our Community Fisheries team also provided support for at least 400 fish harvesters. Learn more.
- ENERGY — We published the Home Energy Justice Forum Proceedings Report following the gathering in April. Read it here.
- CLIMATE — The Climate Innovation team and the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) held a contest for First Nation artists under 30 to design the logo for the upcoming First Nations Carbon Toolkit (more on this below). This month, we shared the story of Bayja Morgan-Banke, whose logo was selected and the meaning behind the design. Read it here.
- ENERGY — We published the Home Energy Upgrade Program Feasibility Study for the City of Prince Rupert. The study found that converting a home on the North Coast of BC from natural gas to a heat pump system, alongside some simple insulation upgrades, can save homeowners between $1,000 – $2,000 annually in energy bills, equivalent to taking two cars off the road per household. Read our blog on the study here.
- FOOD SYSTEMS — The team recertified their crew with various marine certifications (i.e. radio operator, marine emergency, Small Vessel Operator Proficiency Certificate) and published an update on the regenerative ocean farm in Metlakatla First Nation’s community newsletter.
- ENERGY — This month’s blog was about one of our energy advisor graduates who took part in a training and mentorship program we co-delivered. Read more about the energy advisor’s journey stepping into her new, green energy career. Also, an op-ed by the Community Energy Director, Graham Anderson, was published in The Province. Click here to read “Heat Pumps are taking off in B.C., but many households can’t afford the switch.”
- FOOD SYSTEMS — The team submitted a licensing application to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with Rupert Meats to start processing scallops harvested from the regenerative ocean farm with Metlakatla First Nation.
- We revealed our new Strategic Plan. Over the past year, our board and staff have redefined our vision, mission, values and principles, and how we will prove the possible through our five strategic priorities — Community Fisheries, Climate Innovation, Food Systems, Indigenous Homelands, and Community Energy. Read it here.
- CLIMATE — The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and Ecotrust Canada partnered to create an online First Nations Carbon Toolkit focused on First Nations-led forest carbon projects in British Columbia, Canada. This toolkit is meant to provide unbiased information to First Nations interested in learning more about what forest carbon offset projects are, what they mean for sovereignty, and how they can be used for protecting and restoring forests.
- FOOD SYSTEMS — In preparation for the 2024 season, the Food Systems crew and Metlakatla First Nation outplanted 15 more lines of kelp at the regenerative ocean. Outplanting is a process that involves transplanting or placing cultivated kelp seedlings from the kelp nursery into their intended location in the underwater farming area.
- ENERGY — Since 2020, Quatsino First Nation and Ecotrust Canada have been installing heat pumps in community homes. As of November, all homes in the community that wanted heat pumps have had them installed. Over the project’s lifetime, this amounts to over 80 homes having new, highly efficient heating and cooling. Also this month, the Energy team’s Graham Anderson and Dylan Heerema, responded to the federal government’s carbon tax announcement by publishing an op-ed in The Hill Times. Click here to read “Deep efficiency retrofits are the only lasting fix to energy affordability.”
- FOOD SYSTEMS — In coordination with Metlakatla First Nation, the regenerative ocean farm team began harvesting scallops for commercial sale in Northern BC.
- ENERGY — To kick off the Home Energy Savings Program, we’ve created an online resource for people in North Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert to provide free personalized guidance on making homes more energy efficient through upgrades and how to access funding.
That’s a wrap for 2023. There’s still time to donate and receive a tax receipt for 2023. You can do that here or send someone special a donation (via ecard) in their honour using the same link. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Every time we receive a donation, it shows that you believe in our work and that together, we can prove it’s possible to build an economy that provides for life. Thanks to you, we’ve made significant strides in driving positive change in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities.
[Published December 12, 2023]