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Message from the Board Chair: K’unya Laurie Bevan

Updated: Mar 13

In her message for the 2023 CNF Annual Report, Board Chair K’unya Laurie Bevan describes why it is essential to integrate Indigenous knowledge into fisheries’ decision-making.


In 2019, leaders from coastal First Nations and Canada’s Federal Government signed the Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement (FRRA), later amended to its current form in 2021.


The FRRA is the first of its kind in BC to establish a collaborative fisheries management process between Canada and First Nations in the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. The historic agreement, which ultimately led to the creation of Coastal Nations Fisheries, provides funding for access to commercial fishing opportunities and the livelihoods they provide for families. The community-based fisheries model, combined with Nation-led commercial fisheries, will provide stable jobs in the home communities of participating Gitga’at, Gitxaała, Haida, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Metlakatla, Nuxalk and

Wuikinuxv Nations.


The FRRA is a prime example of reconciliation in action, or as I call it, reconciliACTION. It is a major step forward in co-governance and shared decision-making that ensures shareholder Nations will play a lead role in revitalizing coastal fisheries and in rebuilding depleted fish stocks throughout our territories. The FRRA is a much-needed paradigm shift in fisheries management. It establishes a new co-governance framework that will benefit our shareholder Nations, and all Canadians, while showing the world that we can manage our fisheries resources differently and better.


As First Nations people we have all spent time on the ocean and along the shoreline to harvest the food that has sustained us for millennia. As children we watched and learned as our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles walked the beach to dig clams and cockles, check the rocks for mussels, chitons and octopus, waded out with dipnets to catch crabs, and set nets and cast lines to catch salmon. We listened to their stories of when the ocean was plentiful and how when the tide was out, the table was set.


Our people have always known that keeping the ocean and river ecosystems healthy is key to preserving our culture, food security and economic self-sufficiency, which is why it is essential to integrate Indigenous knowledge into fisheries’ decision-making.


All of the shareholder Nations are committed to working together collaboratively on a Nation-to-Nation, government-to-government basis to develop effective strategies for the management, conservation and use of fisheries resources. As one of three Haida representatives on the inaugural Board, and as the only woman, I am deeply honoured to play an important role in this work.


Respectfully,

K’unya Laurie Bevan, Haida

Board Chair, Coastal Nations Fisheries

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