Water for Fish
*NEW!* Environmental Flow Needs: A Primer for BC First Nations (Nov 2020)
Environmental Flow Needs (EFNs) offer First Nations an important avenue to influence and make decisions about water licenses and water use in their territories. EFNs can also be an expression of Indigenous law and a condition for exercising Aboriginal and Treaty Rights to water and fish. This new resource from the FNFC’s Water for Fish initiative offers guidance on why and under what circumstances it may be valuable for First Nations to establish and implement EFNs for critical waters in their territories.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In 2018 the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy provided the FNFC with grant funding to advise BC on an Engagement Framework to guide the development of the remaining Water Sustainability Act (WSA) regulations and policies in accordance with BC’s reconciliation commitments. As part of this work, the FNFC organized a series of meetings of a Working Group comprised of First Nations leadership and staff that hold relevant expertise in water governance. The Working Group recommendations were finalized in the May 2019 report Towards a Water Sustainability Act First Nations Engagement Framework: Working Group Recommendations for Collaborative Development of Regulations and Policies.
The Statement of Requirements for Water Governance in British Columbia According to Crown Commitments to Reconciliation was drafted by the BC First Nations Water Governance Roundtable in November 2018. It provides further direction on the transformative measures required by the BC Government to fulfill reconciliation commitments and support the implementation of First Nations freshwater jurisdiction. The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) and FNFC also developed a Backgrounder to offer clarity on key questions that arise around UNDRIP and fresh water in BC.
The FNFC launched a report entitled Protecting Water Our Way: First Nations Freshwater Governance in British Columbia in May 2018. Featuring a selection of five case stories that pull out key elements of First Nations-led water planning and governance in BC, this report is aimed at increasing the capacity, knowledge and understanding of First Nations staff and leadership.
Between 2015 and 2016, the FNFC partnered with CIER on a research initiative that explores indigenous-led freshwater planning and governance initiatives in British Columbia. Read the research report and communique.
First Nations Engagement and Consultation
The Province of British Columbia is legally obliged to consult and, at times, accommodate First Nations on land and resource decisions that could impact their Aboriginal Interests.
The Province introduced Bill 41 in 2019, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, to take legislative action to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In the same month, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) published a paper entitled Consent. It advances understandings and dialogue about free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) and how to operationalize it.
In May 2019 a Working Group of First Nations water governance experts and FNFC finalized the report Towards a Water Sustainability Act First Nations Engagement Framework: Working Group Recommendations for Collaborative Development of Regulations and Policies.
In May 2018 the Province released Draft Principles that Guide the Province of British Columbia’s Relationships with Indigenous Peoples. These Principles are intended to complement the Province’s commitment to implement UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
In September 2017 the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance (POLIS) and CIER published the paper Collaborative Consent and British Columbia’s Water: Towards Watershed Co-Governance. It focuses on expanding on the concept of collaborative consent and examining how it can be applied in the specific context of freshwater governance in BC.
The Province has developed guidance manuals for both government officials and proponents to consult First Nations.
Strategic Engagement Agreements (SEAs) are intended to set out mutually agreed on steps between the Province of BC and First Nations to engage and consult.
Reconciliation Agreements establish a framework for shared decision-making for lands and resources.
Water and Watershed Governance
The University of Victoria’s POLIS and Environmental Law Centre published the brief Water Sustainability Plans: Potential, Options, and Essential Content in 2019. It explores the potential of Water Sustainability Plans (WSPs) enabled by the WSA.
In May 2018 the FNFC launched a new report entitled Protecting Water Our Way: First Nations Freshwater Governance in British Columbia. Featuring a selection of five case stories that pull out key elements of First Nations-led water planning and governance in British Columbia, this report is aimed at increasing the capacity, knowledge and understanding of First Nations staff and leadership.
The POLIS Water Sustainability Project is run out of the University of Victoria and has developed a number of policy papers, case studies and reports reviewing and evaluating conditions necessary for achieving a sustainable water framework.
The Program on Water Governance (PoWG) is based out of the University of British Columbia and conducts inter-disciplinary research on water sustainability and governance.
Watershed Planning and Management
The University of Victoria’s POLIS and Environmental Law Centre published the brief Water Sustainability Plans: Potential, Options, and Essential Content. It explores the potential of Water Sustainability Plans (WSPs) enabled by the WSA.
The CIER has produced a series of First Nations Integrated Watershed Planning guidebooks to support Aboriginal communities develop plans to protect their lands and waters.
Fraser Basin Council (FBC) has developed a number of resources, guides and toolkits to support communities advance watershed planning and management.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has developed a comprehensive (and freely available) handbook to develop watershed plans.