Working with first nations
Most of the Burns Lake Community Forest is within the Traditional Territory of the Wet’suwet’en Peoples encompassed within Tsayu Tatl’at Bin, Gilseyhu Honeagh Bin, and Laksilyu Tselh K’iz Bin Clan and Houses.
The Office of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en is the administrative organization that acts in the interests of the most local First Nations, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation and the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have representation on the BLCF Board of Directors and are actively involved in the Community Forest.
BLCF has always been committed to establishing a strong working relationship with these Nations and creating mutually beneficial agreements. They were able to see the direct benefits of involvement with the Community Forest due to the overlap between their Traditional Territories and the K1A licence — each Nation provided land toward the expansion of the forest. The strength of this relationship was tested when communication began to breakdown. Efforts at increasing involvement and engagement, including a restructuring of the Board of Directors, resulted in breaking down the barriers to communication.
The FSC became the key avenue to restart the conversation. The environmental stewardship and wildlife components of the FSC aligned with what these partners value in their territory. From here, a deeper personal relationship developed where members of the Nations and BLCF staff meet in the forest, see locations in person, and bring employment opportunities, forestry activities, and projects to the communities, uniting in the shared purpose of having the forest succeed for the benefit of everyone.
The BLCF engages with other First Nations where the K1A licence overlaps Traditional Territories.
BLCF is working to provide First Nations and the local communities with confidence in forest management through engagement with Indigenous representatives, stewardship and operational practices, and input on forest development plans.