March 2023 Climate Change & Water Newsletter


Kanaka Bar Band reclaims decision-making: T’eqt’aqtn Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA)

For the March edition of this newsletter, the BCAFN shared a conversation with Sean O’Rourke, Lands Manager at Kanaka Bar Band, to discuss the T’eqt’aqtn Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.


Kanaka Bar Indian Band (or T'eqt''aqtn'mux) is taking critical action in land management for the Nation and land health. T'eqt''aqtn'mux is a Nlaka’pamux First Nation in the Fraser Canyon, just south of Lytton, B.C. The ongoing impacts of climate change, wildfires, floods, and unsustainable industrial activity have contributed to the urgency of this project. In July 2022, Kanaka Bar announced the T’eqt’aqtn Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA).


The T’eqt’aqtn IPCA covers 320 km2 and is home to the Kwoiek and Four Barrel watersheds and adjacent parts of the Fraser Canyon, including 125 km2 of old-growth forests. There are trees documented to be the biggest of their kind, fields of culturally significant, endangered plants, several important archaeological sites, and a petroglyph among the oldest in Canada.



Kanaka Bar overlooking the Fraser River



However, in 2021, the Lytton Fire displaced many members from their homelands. The current and historic mining and logging activities have also heavily impacted Kanaka's way of life and connection to the land. These impacts continue to accumulate and exacerbate the recent environmental disturbances. Elders and other community members have been outspoken about returning land stewardship in the Kwoiek watershed to Kanaka.




Former Chief Patrick Michell first approached the Gold Commissioner with recommendations on how to halt Placer mining and other unsustainable industrial activity in the territory; however, little progress was made. Sean O’Rourke highlighted the challenges in the capacity to undertake this work; “Finding people, capacity, natural disasters, and reaching the territory are the primary difficulties we've been experiencing.




Fortunately, the IPCA route will allow Kanaka Bar to address these issues as one rather than navigating and waiting on the many bureaucratic processes that often lead to dead ends. Since time immemorial, Kanaka has stewarded its territory and continues to actively work towards returning its traditional governance to steward in a manner consistent with its values.



Large Douglas-fir on Kanaka territory




The IPCA also offers flexibility to return Indigenous-led protection and management of allocated areas based on the nation’s determination. This designation is imperative to shifting the power and lenses of colonial resource management views to Indigenous holistic stewardship. Sean is spearheading this project, using Western methodology and Kanaka's knowledge of the land, such as using cultural sites of significance, to determine the biophysical and socio-cultural conservation value assessment on why Kanaka's territory is so unique. Sean strongly believes this value assessment has brought the community together.




He shared, “Through place names, stories where they go out and do various resource activities, or just how they use the land, what the land means to them, and important archeological sites.” This process highlights a cultural revitalization and passion for sustainable holistic stewardship building Kanaka Bar Band’s future. Notably, this approach has helped secure national funding for capacity to continue Nation led stewardship of territory. In an increasingly changing and challenging environment, Indigenous knowledge and leadership are necessary to shape our shared future. 



Left to right: Kanaka CEO Greg Grayson, Kanaka Lands Manager Sean O’Rourke, Kanaka Chief Jordan Spinks, Celina Starnes and Ken Wu (Endangered Ecosystems Alliance), Hania Peper (Nature-Based Solutions Foundation), TJ Watt (Ancient Forest Alliance).

CleanBC Roadmap to 2030
Deadline for input: Apr. 5, 2023

The Province's CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 includes development of a Clean Transportation Action Plan (CTAP) identifying ways to reduce GHG emissions and increase economic opportunities in the transportation sector. As part of this process, First Nations organizations are invited to comment on the CTAP Consultation Paper.

Feedback will be accepted until 4 p.m. on April 5, 2023. Please include the name of the organization or association on behalf of which the input is being given. Submissions will not be posted publicly. Please submit your input by email to


Home Energy Justice Forum

Apr. 12, 2023 | UBC Robson Square, Vancouver, BC

Hosted by Ecotrust Canada, the Home Energy Justice Forum is an opportunity to explore the latest research, statistics, and lived experiences of energy insecurity. This interactive forum will have policymakers to engage directly with participants, subject matter experts, and advocates.

Planned themes include the role and evolution of income-qualified retrofit programs, codes for existing buildings, and regulations for rental suites including the “right to cooling.” 

Register here


National Indigenous Clean Energy Forum

Jul. 28, 2023 | UBC Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, Vancouver, BC

Join Indigenous Clean Energy for the 6th annual National Indigenous Clean Energy Forum to hear from Indigenous clean energy leaders of the 20/20 Catalysts Program. Agenda TBA.

The 20/20 Catalysts Program has been successful in building Indigenous clean energy capacity across the country by establishing partnerships between Indigenous communities, utilities, clean energy development firms, Crown governments, and clean energy companies.

Register here

Indigenous Watersheds Initiative

Deadline: Apr. 24, 2023

The Indigenous Watersheds Initiative is funding First Nations in BC working to advance their vision of watershed health and security. It supports a model of watershed security rooted in long-term resilience, local values, and Indigenous rights and title. Eligible projects include:

  • Stewarding traditional practices, monitoring, and/or guardian programs
  • Securing safe and clean drinking water
  • Sustaining local and traditional food systems
  • Connecting communities to their watersheds
  • Protecting and mitigating against climate change
  • Advancing Indigenous laws and knowledge

This round of funding will prioritize proposals from the following watersheds: Mackenzie, Nass, Stikine, Taku, Yukon, Skeena, North Vancouver Island and North and Central Coast.

Apply here.


Project Accelerator

Deadline: May 19, 2023

The newly launched Project Accelerator from Indigenous Clean Energy supports the start-up and implementation of Indigenous energy-efficiency housing projects. The program is open to all First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities and housing organizations.

Project Stewards and participating communities will move through capacity-building training, gain access to a national network of experts and mentors, and complete the program with a concrete energy efficiency project underway, including $125,000 in Project Grant support.

For questions, read the FAQ page or email

Apply here.


Circuit Rider Training Program

No deadline - First Nations may join at any time

This federal initiative is a long-term capacity building program that provides training and mentoring services to operators of First Nations drinking water and wastewater systems. 

First Nations do not need to apply; ISC's regional offices provide funding to maintain a roster of qualified experts who are available to support First Nation operators through the Circuit Rider Training Program. For more information, contact your nearest ISC regional office.

Learn more here.


Prince George Office

1004 Landooz Rd | Prince George, BC | V2K 5S3

Tel. (250) 962-1603

Vancouver Office

Suite 1020-1200 W 73rd Ave | Vancouver, BC | V6P 6G5

Tel. (778) 945-9911