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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………………..


 
Posted By PWR Initiative

On our website we have mentioned that Kwiakah First Nation has invested substantially in scientific research to find answers about the health of the Phillips Arm grizzly bear and the Phillips River salmon populations. In addition, professionals worked on an aquatic assessment for the Phillips watershed and an Eelgrass and Clam survey was completed.

We will talk about the detailed results of each research phase later in this information campaign. For now, it is suffice it to say that things are not well in Phillips Arm and the environmental conditions and circumstances are dire.

We started with the grizzly bear research as early as 2006 and have successfully completed 5 consecutive bear research projects since. In 2012 we started with the aquatic assessment, followed by the survey for Eelgrass and Clams, and multi-level projects for a Phillips River salmon data analysis. At the time of writing of this blog entry we have almost completed phase 3 of the salmon data analysis.

We have consistently provided the BC Liberal government under Premier Christie Clark with our scientific evidence. It was our hope the government would see the urgency to take drastic steps to protect the badly damaged environment of Phillips Arm.
Unfortunately, our efforts were not the least appreciated and the BC Chief Forester in particular took it upon herself to attempt to dispute the research results we had provided. The provincial large carnivore expert and a government fish biologist provided her with statements that were supposed to weaken the evidence so that BC could move forward with their faulty decision-making - in this instance with an Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) determination for TFL 39 Block 5 (the area of the Phillips River watershed) that does hardly allow for real protective measures in Phillips Arm.  The experts working for Kwiakah responded to the government criticism and made their case why government staff were wrong in their judgement. Afterwards, Kwiakah did not hear back from the Chief Forester’s office.

Of course, the BC government is hiding behind the provincial Forest Act and the new Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order (GBRLUO). Provincial government staff even went so far as requesting from Kwiakah First Nation to stop conducting research. The BC Liberal government seems to be afraid of scientific evidence that has been developed independently. It is their opinion that our efforts are creating “Competing Science” (yes, that is exactly the term used by government staff) – research that is contradicting the overly optimistic positions of the BC government - and they are afraid that a judge –should Kwiakah First Nation take legal action against the BC Liberal government – might get confused and annoyed by research that is saying different things.

Kwiakah First Nation will not be deterred by the BC Liberal government’s refusal to take the evidence we have provided into account. Our small First Nation will continue to prove to government that they have to stop believing things are well in our forests and watersheds – we will continue to do research in hope that one day this government will agree to listen to scientific evidence. Our research will get stronger and every additional phase of new research will confirm and strengthen our position, which is….

……..that drastic measures must be taken to help the environment of the Phillips watershed to recover from many decades of abuse by faulty government decision-making that only nurtured the industrial and commercial exploitation of First Nation lands.


 
Posted By PWR Initiative

Welcome to the “Phillips Watershed Recovery Initiative” blog. This blog has been installed to act as a link between the website for our initiative (www.pwr-initiative.com) and the corresponding social media accounts for the movement. This is the place where we will post in-depth information on the issues that have a deep impact on the environmental welfare of the Phillips River watershed. For example, readers will find posts here that will explain Kwiakah First Nation’s strategy to protect Phillips Arm against the industrial exploitation. Also, we will show how the small First Nation has tried to negotiate compromises with licensees like Western Forest Products Inc. or the BC Liberal government under Premier Christie Clark – all to no avail up to this point. This will also be the place where copies of important documents will be posted.

The Phillips Watershed Recovery Initiative is not a movement to make unjustified accusations – on the contrary, it provides a forum where information is posted to help the interested reader to build their own opinion. Of course, we are hoping that the facts will speak for themselves and the efforts by Kwiakah First Nation will find widespread support from the general public.
This is just the beginning and we want to use the time until the provincial elections in BC this May wisely. The public needs to know what is going on and we want to make sure that this will happen in a professional manner.

Please stay tuned and come back often……….


 

 

 
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