The Phillips Watershed Recovery Initiative is a Kwiakah First Nation led information campaign to find public support for the protection of Phillips Arm.

Posted By PWR Initiative

The Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) Agreement was negotiated by a number of organizations – the BC Government, forest licensees, the Coastal First Nations (an alliance of First Nations on British Columbia's North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii), the Nanwakolas Council ( six member First Nations whose traditional territories are located in the Northern Vancouver Island and South Central Coast areas of BC) and the RSP (a group of three NGOs).

The GBR legislation came into effect in 2016 and was supposed to protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest - at least this is how it was hyped in the media by Premier Clark. However, she never really explained to what measure the 85 percent were referring to. There is quite an imbalance to the level of protection various areas of the GBR are “enjoying”. In simple terms, the northern sections  are enjoying real protection – the areas that were represented by the Coastal First Nations in the GBR negotiations. The southern sections of the GBR are not so lucky. Phillips Arm is part of the southern tip of the GBR and will essentially be seeing an increase in logging activities. It is interesting to note that a number of the First Nations with territories on the South Central coast were represented by the Nanwakolas Council in the GBR negotiations. However, the Nanwakolas Council had no authority to represent Kwiakah First Nation – whose members call Phillips Arm their ancestral home and it is the First Nation’s core territory (Kwiakah First Nation is still a member of the Nanwakolas Council but has always maintained its independence from this umbrella organization and is negotiating directly with all levels of Government). Unfortunately, the parties negotiating the GBR agreement have assumed that the Nanwakolas Council had authority to speak on behalf of Kwiakah First Nation and as a result Kwiakah First Nation was not consulted on the GBR agreement until just a couple of days before Premier Clark was planning to make her “historic” announcement (i.e. by that time the agreement was a done deal and it did not matter what Kwiakah had to say).

Talking about the paradox: The question is why the southern portions of the GBR don’t see the same levels of protection like the northern sections of this forest? Also, why was the decision made to take away protection from an extremely damaged area like Phillips Arm, where forestry has led to the destruction of the environment of the Phillips River watershed?

Neither the BC Liberal government nor the member NGOs of the Rainforest Solution Project have given Kwiakah First Nation a satisfactory answer to this question.

Looking at this situation we could only make the following observations:

  • It is in the southern portions of the GBR were the brunt of logging activities will occur.
  • The First Nations with territories in the southern areas of the GBR were represented by negotiators of the Nanwakolas Council during the GBR negotiations.
  • The Chairman and President of the Nanwakolas Council was Dallas Smith (stepped down from this position in December of 2016)
  • Premier Christie Clark announced in October of 2016 that former president of the Nanwakolas Council Dallas Smith will be the BC Liberal candidate for the riding of the North Island in the 2017 provincial election.
  • In the announcement speech the Premier named candidate Dallas Smith the “Architect” of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement

No further comment………………..




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