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 precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in. This principle has been codified in several international treaties to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic law makes reference to this principle but implementation remains limited.”

Kwiakah First Nation has provided the BC Liberal Government with ample evidence that the ecosystem of the Phillips Watershed is under enormous environmental pressure – and all the evidence is pointing at forestry as the main local culprit. The small First Nation has commissioned research for Phillips Arm starting in the year 2006. Of course, in scientific terms one decade of research cannot provide all the answers and one has to stay committed to continue research work for years to come to close knowledge gaps or prove a clear correlation between cause and effect. Many times it is not one specific cause but a conglomerate of a number of factors that have a negative impact on a ecosystem.

Kwiakah’s research results and all the professional reports clearly show a very negative trend and point at forest activities as the main cause for the negative impacts on key indicator species in Phillips Arm like grizzly bears, Roosevelt Elk or salmon (the Phillips River is one of the few remaining watersheds that is still home to all five Pacific salmon runs on the South Central Coast; however, the individual salmon populations of the watershed show very low numbers for returning fish – a run could go extinct at any given time because the low numbers of returning fish can hardly sustain a population).

The BC Liberal Government has signalled that they are interested in joint research projects with Kwiakah First Nation. They are hoping that “duelling science” (this is their newest term – they switched from competing to duelling) can be prevented by working jointly on research. The BC Liberal Government is still adamant in their position not to trust any research or scientific results that have not been produced by government scientists.

Kwiakah First Nation is very open to working together with government scientists - we are convinced our research can withstand scientific scrutiny. However, we are demanding that the BC Liberal Government follow the “Precautionary Principle” and not allow timber harvest activities until they prove to Kwiakah without a doubt that a decade of research conducted by professionals on behalf of Kwiakah is wrong and the ecosystem of the Phillips watershed is not in danger of collapse.

At the time of writing of this blog entry government officials have informed us that compliance with the precautionary principle is not their top priority and that they would prefer to fulfill their contractual obligations with licensees instead.

Of course, Kwiakah First Nation won’t stand for this and will use any means necessary to convince the BC Liberal government to respect the precautionary principle.

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

Welcome to the “Phillips Watershed Recovery Initiative” blog. This blog has been installed to act as a link between the website for our initiative ( 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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