BC First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda

The interconnected climate and biodiversity crises, coupled with persistent environmental degradation and the ongoing impacts of colonization, pose a dire threat to the survival and traditional ways of life of First Nations. This compounds the pre-existing vulnerabilities, escalates the risks from climate-driven disasters and endangers our traditional territories that sustain all forms of life. Urgent and transformative changes to current government frameworks, policies and mechanisms that prioritize the inclusion and full recognition and respect of First Nations' governance systems, inherent rights, laws, and priorities in climate action are essential.

Resolution 07/2023 mandates BCAFN to work with First Nations in BC to develop the First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda in British Columbia (the BC FNCL Agenda) and ensure their recommendations and policy directions are fully considered in the Canada-wide First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda.

BCAFN is in the process of engaging and seeking input from First Nations title and rights holders to develop the FNCL Agenda in BC. We will conduct a series of engagement activities across BC to foster discussions and identify key priority actions and concrete recommendations to advance and support First Nations climate leadership and action. The recommendations, priorities, and policy direction will be submitted to the federal government and inform a memorandum to cabinet.

For more information about the BC FNCL Agenda, please contact Patricia Rojas at patricia.rojas@bcafn.ca or Kristi Denby at kristi.denby@bcafn.ca

Background

First Nations in BC are true climate leaders in adapting and responding to the climate emergency and must have a leadership role in any climate discussion, based on First Nations’ inherent and constitutionally protected Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. However, too often, governments' climate decisions, plans, strategies and investments are developed and implemented without the meaningful participation of First Nations. It is time to fundamentally shift decision-making within the federal system and rethink how climate funding is allocated by Canada. 

Canada has committed to co-developing an Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda (ICLA) as outlined in the UN Declaration Act (UNDA) Action Plan, Strengthened Climate Plan, the 2030 Emission Reduction Plan, and Budget 2022. The ICLA will include distinctions-based agendas with the intention of building regional and national capacity and progressively place authorities and resources for climate action in the hands of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and representative organizations. As a next step for co-development with First Nations, the Joint Committee on Climate Action (JCCA), a technical table between AFN, AFN regions and the federal government, laid the foundation for the First Nations Climate Leadership (FNCL) Agenda. 

The Canada wide FNCL Agenda would provide a roadmap to ensure that federal climate policy and legislation:

"Respect and supports the exercise of self-determination and Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights." "Empowers First Nations' meaningful involvement in national climate governance." "Ensures appropriate federal support consistent with Canada's fiduciary obligations."

In BC, the FNCL Agenda will complement the work undertaken by the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) to implement the BC First Nations Climate Strategy and Action Plan’s pathways and actions. The FNCL Agenda should complement and use the BC FN Climate Strategy as a starting point and build on previous engagements, discussions and work between Canada, BC and First Nations. The BCAFN will conduct a series of engagement activities with First Nations rights and titleholders across BC to foster discussions and identify key priority actions and concrete recommendations. 

The BC FNCL Agenda will inform the Canada-wide FNCL Agenda, ultimately shaping the ICLA. The ICLA will be presented to the Cabinet via a Memorandum to the Cabinet and then to the Treasury Board for implementation.

"BC First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda" "First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda" " Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda"

Objectives and Potential Outcomes

First Nations in BC are leaders in climate response and must have a leadership role in climate discussions based on the respect and exercise of our collective, inherent and constitutionally protected Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. Through meaningful engagement with First Nations, we have identified some of the goals and objectives that the BC FNCL Agenda aims to achieve:

  • Use the BC First Nations Climate Strategy and Action Plan as a foundation to guide the FNCL Agenda co-development process in BC, while focusing on implementing and validating priority objectives outlined in the strategy.
  • Address barriers to accessing federal climate funding, offering recommendations.
  • Enhance collaborative decision-making in federal climate governance. 
  • Promote long-term First Nations climate leadership in BC.
  • Support capacity, expertise, and governance for implementing climate actions.
  • Preserve and integrate First Nations Knowledge, laws, and languages for climate resilience.
  • Increase access to long-term funding for building climate capacity and self-determined climate responses.

Some of the key issues we have heard so far

  • Systemic inequities and discrimination have led to a history of distrust.
  • Transition to self-determination.
  • Urgent need to restore the balance of the natural world.
  • Lack of First Nation involvement in decision-making.
  • Few meaningful opportunities for change.
  • Limited capacity to participate.
  • Uncoordinated and siloed federal system

Development Process

What the process will look like:image

Engagement Activities

Engagement Plan

The BCAFN will host and facilitate engagement sessions across BC between November 2023 - July 2024. Input from these sessions will identify and provide priority actions, policy directions, and concrete recommendations to the federal government for implementing and advancing the FNCL Agenda in BC.

There are a number of ways to participate, including:

In-person Regional Engagement Sessions

BCAFN will host eight regional in-person engagements across BC between April and July 2024. Based on the guidance from the Knowledge Keepers Gathering and the Co-development Session, participants will be asked to identify and provide priority actions, policy directions, and concrete recommendations to the federal government for implementing and advancing the BC FNCL Agenda, while ensuring the overall guiding principles are upheld.

All engagement sessions will run from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM with registration and breakfast available at 8:00 AM. 

REGISTER HERE

dates table

BCAFN Travel Policy for the FNCLA Engagement Sessions

Focus Groups

The objective of the focus group is to delve deep into climate-related themes and key priority areas identified by the BC First Nations Climate Strategy and Action Plan, the Steering Committee and Project team and/or participants at engagements to further provide engagement and policy direction and recommendations.

Interviews

The interviews will support our efforts towards reaching our goal of hearing from all 204 Nations and receiving feedback on the recommendations. The interviews also present an opportunity to speak to key regional climate and Indigenous Knowledge experts as part of ongoing iterations of the process itself, not just the end goal of receiving feedback on the Climate Agenda.

Written Responses

To offer another way of engaging anyone who could not attend in-person or who wanted to offer more input post-engagement, there is the option of submitting written responses by First Nations governments, leaders, experts, or identified voices.

Virtual Engagement Sessions

BCAFN will host virtual engagement sessions to validate the themes and recommendations that emerged from the engagements.

To participate in any of these engagement activities or if you want to receive information about them, please contact Patricia Rojas at patricia.rojas@bcafn.ca or Kristi Denby at kristi.denby@bcafn.ca

Engagement Work Completed

Spiritual Knowledge Keeper Gathering on Climate Change
Spiritual Knowledge Keeper Gathering on Climate Change opened the FNCL Agenda co-development process. At the gathering, Knowledge Keepers from across BC discussed the climate crisis, its underlying causes and its profound impacts on the Land and all living beings. Over the course of the Gathering, Knowledge Keepers shared personal experiences, stories, prophecies, songs and teachings to support healing and guide our collective work on climate change.

For the first time in a ceremonial space, approximately 80 observers from Provincial and Federal governments, First Nations (including youth, leadership and staff), NGOs, the private sector, organizations, academia, and interested parties were invited to witness, listen, heal, reflect and carry back the teachings to their lives, workspaces and communities.

The Knowledge Keepers provided direction on climate solutions while outlining roles and responsibilities for First Nations, communities, governments, and society at large for the future of Lands and Waters and the children of our children. The What We Heard Report includes a Knowledge Keepers Mandate with 14 actions, which will guide our collective climate change work and inform the implementation of the BC First Nations Climate Strategy and Action Plan and the development of the BC First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda.

BC First Nations Spiritual Knowledge Keeper Gathering on Climate Change: What We Heard Report

Co-Development Kick-Off Session
We recognize that true co-development cannot be achieved until First Nations have equal decision-making power. This session was centred around defining what is “co-development” and “meaningful engagement” are for First Nations in BC. We discussed what is the most appropriate terminology for “co-development with First Nations”. This session informed the engagement plan, the question development for the engagements, and key recommendations can be found in the final Co-development Session What We Heard Report.

A Vision for Co-development of the BC First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda: What We Learned Report and Co-Development Principles

Timeline

timeline graphic

Steering Committee

The BC Steering Committee is responsible for making important decisions for the BC FNCL Agenda development, which includes providing strategic direction on the engagement process and validating findings and recommendations throughout the co-development of the BC FNCL Agenda. In addition, the BC Steering Committee will provide oversight on the Memorandum to Cabinet development process based on the recommendations in the BC Climate Leadership Agenda report. 

The BC Steering Committee will ensure accountability and oversight on engagement decisions while explicitly recognizing the need to be directly informed by and responsive to First Nation title and rights-holders' priorities, rights, and knowledge. The BC Steering Committee is not a consultative body; First Nations governments, as rights and title-holders to their lands, have specific protocols and laws that must be considered related to their climate change initiatives.

Terms of Reference

Steering Committee Members:

Janna Wale (She/Her) is Gitxsan from Gitanmaax First Nation, is Cree-Métis and mixed European on her mother’s side.  She holds a Bachelor of Natural Resource Sciences (Hons.) from Thompson Rivers University (TRU), as well as Masters of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability from the University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBC-O). Her master's thesis focused on building climate resilience in Indigenous communities using a two-eyed seeing approach. Janna is an advocate for Indigenous-led climate solutions and adaptation and is passionate about creating and holding space for youth in climate conversations.

Portrait of Janna Wale
Janna Wale - Gitanmaax First Nation
Portrait of Sophie Collins
Sophie Collins - Esk’etemc.

Le7 te siqt, Sophie Collins ren skwekwst. Te Esk’etemc re st’7é7kwen. Te Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc ren mùmtwen.

Sophie Collins is Secwépemc from Esk’etemc in British Columbia on her mom’s side and from the Woodland Métis Tribe in Ontario on her dad’s side. She is honoured to currently live, work, and play on the unceded territory of the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc People.

Sophie graduated from Thompson Rivers University in April 2022 with a Bachelor of Science where she studied Physics, Mathematics, and Statistics. After a summer internship with Qwelmínte Secwépemc, she fell in love with the world of Cumulative Effects. She defines Cumulative Effects as the holistic study of The People, The Economy, and The Environment and how they interact with each other over meaningful space and time.

Sophie now works for the British Columbia Ministry of Water, Lands and Resource Stewardship as a Land & Resource Management Coordinator working in Cumulative Effects. Sophie strives to work toward the protection and preservation of the Tmícw (roughly translates to Land, air and everything on Earth) for the next seven generations.

Sophie is excited to co-develop, oversee, and advance the work of the First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda in British Columbia with the other dedicated committee members. She is eager to collaborate and apply UNDRIP Principles and First Nations Knowledge Systems to Climate Action.

Kyle Alec is from the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation and is a member of the Penticton Indian Band in Southern British Columbia and the BCAFN Male Youth Representative. Kyle also served for a short time on council for the Penticton Indian Band, Kyle grew up in the Indigenous planning world and specializes in facilitating enowkinwixw process for decision-making and planning. He has experience working through strategy sessions in governance and community planning, facilitation and co-facilitation of workshops dealing with multigenerational trauma, healing, goal setting and visioning, and event coordination. 

KA
Kyle Alec - Syilx (Okanagan) Nation
Portrait of Harvey McLeod
Harvey McLeod - Upper Nicola Band

Harvey McLeod was the elected chief of the Upper Nicola Band. He was elected to the BCAFN Board of Directors on October 12, 2017. Harvey McLeod was first elected to Upper Nicola Band council in 1982. He was elected Chief of Upper Nicola Band in March of 2014 and re-elected in March 2017.

As an individual, Harvey has experienced some lows and highs in his lifetime. As a residential school survivor, Harvey has taken steps to improve his wellness and throughout his healing journey has built up the confidence to take on any challenge and face any demons. Understanding that forgiveness and knowing life is more fulfilling gives Harvey the strength to assist his family and community and to step forward in a good way. In his two grandchildren, he sees the opportunities that he never had, and knowing that they will have the opportunity to be seen gives him the strength to continue serving his community and the Chiefs of BC.

As the eldest of seven siblings (five surviving),  Harvey was the first to graduate in his family, and the first to receive a college diploma in Agriculture from Fairview College in Alberta in 1984. Harvey has previous experience with the Western Indian Agriculture Corporation and the Nicola Valley Indian Development Corporation as a small business advisor, and has worked for Human Resources Development Canada for nine years. Harvey has also worked for many years as the Executive Director of the Interior Salish Employment and Training Society (AHRDA).

Yaw Smatmcuks! First and foremost, Terry Webber would like to acknowledge the Creator for blessing us with another beautiful day in his Nuxalk language, Yamtinilh Suts’. His Nuxalk name is Xuta and my modern day name is Terry Webber. Him and his family come from the Village of Snxlhh here in Nuxalk Territory. Terry is am married with 7 children (5 daughters, 2 sons and a beautiful wife named Alicia) and have a background in Electrical, Carpentry and Business Administration.

Currently, he is the Clean Energy Director for Nuxalk Nation. We are a Non-Integrated Area Community who are primarily dependant on diesel burning generators to generate electricity.  We have a number of initiatives to decarbonize our energy, which includes a Nation driven project in Nooklikonnik Creek, a 2MW Run of River project.

Terry also sits on two governance seats near and dear to his heart “one is for my people and the other is for the future, and I see the future is bright for my Nation”.

  • Deputy Chief for Nuxalk Nation Chief and Council
  • Trustee for School District #49 Central Coast
Portrait of Terry Webber
Terry Webber - Nuxalk Nation
KP
Katisha Paul - Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Katisha Paul, also known as Kwikws l̲ vs̲ áos (Little Angel), is a xwílŋəxw sɬéniʔ (woman of this land: She/her pronouns) from the W̱ JOȽEȽP and Lil’wat nations living in xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam) territory. She is the elected Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) Youth Representative, Urban Native Youth Association Board member, LEVEL YPP participant, an administrative mentee of Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolf Pack), and a political science student. In 2023, she was working with the Indigenous Youth Internship Program at the Ministry of Attorney General, BC Public Service Agency (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), and UBCIC as a policy analyst. Katisha protects Aboriginal land, title, and human rights with the guidance of Indigenous knowledge systems and the support of UNDRIP. Our cultures and languages are gifts from the land that Katisha is honoured to be actively revitalizing alongside the elders, knowledge keepers, and youth.

Guiding Principles

Graphic with Guiding Principles of the BC First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda

The Steering Committee and the development of the BC FNCL Agenda will be committed to these shared values and principles:

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

First Nations’ climate priorities, self-determination and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent, will guide all aspects of the co-development process.

First Nations Knowledge Systems and Ethical Space:

The BC Steering Committee and the co-development of the BC FNCL Agenda will be held in a safe, mutually respectful, shared, and collaborative space known as an Ethical Space. The application of Ethical Space will ensure the goals of the BC FNCL Agenda are achieved while honoring distinct First Nations and Western knowledge systems throughout the process. The inclusion of, and active support for, First Nations knowledge systems along with Western knowledge systems in the BC FNCL Agenda will produce outcomes that are conducive to both rights and title-holders and federal officials. Though very diverse in nature, First Nations knowledge systems are often embedded in place, the land, language, stories, histories, and legal traditions, which will provide essential perspectives in the BC FNCL Agenda to promote self-determination and First Nations-informed climate action.

Legacy of Colonization and Land Dispossession: 

The development of the BC FNCL Agenda will be informed by and will contribute to remedying the legacy of colonization and the resulting socio-economic conditions, historical underfunding of First Nations, and dispossession of First Nation lands. At the same time, participants understand that the scope of the initiative, and any solutions that may ensue, will be primarily targeted at addressing climate change and its adverse impacts on First Nations’ wellbeing.

Direct Engagement with Rights and Title-holders:

While improvements to First Nations’ well-being in relation to climate change are expected to flow indirectly from the development of the BC FNCL Agenda, the unrestricted participation of rights and title-holders is understood to be a prerequisite for success.

Transparency:

To collaborate with each other and work effectively, the BC Steering Committee and chairs must be transparent in the process provide clear information and from the outset. Ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly communicated so BC Steering Committee members can be accountable for collective and individual decisions and outcomes.

Clear Recommendations:

Clear, concise and consensus-based recommendations will ensure the best possible outcomes for the co-development process.

Trust and Confidentiality:

The meetings and content discussed at the BC Steering Committee meetings are confidential. The reports will remain confidential, including the findings and recommendations, until they are publicly available. The viewpoints and insights shared by the BC Steering Committee members are confidential and should be shared with documented permission and shared approval from the BC Steering Committee meetings. Developing a high-trust environment will allow for more effective discussions and strengthen the process.

Meaningful Involvement:

Members should contribute actively and meaningfully to the BC Steering Committee discussions. Members are expected to read supporting documents and attend meetings prepared and ready to contribute. Each member should ensure space for everyone to share their viewpoints and perspectives free of judgment.

Holistic Viewpoints:

Members must acknowledge First Nations' worldviews in solving the climate crisis and recognize that all living things are interconnected.