In 2000 the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation released their Land and Resource Protection and Management Plan (land use plan), one of the first of its kind developed by a First Nation in British Columbia. The expectation of the land use plan is that there will be meaningful consultation and co-management between the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, other governments, and industry, before any development takes place, or efforts to plan or manage Kitasoo/Xai’xais lands or resources.

The stated objectives of the land use plan are to provide for:

  1. Sustainable and stable Kitasoo/Xai’xais communities
  2. The social development of Kitasoo/Xai’xais families and individuals
  3. The spiritual and cultural integrity of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais way of life
  4. The protection and enhancement of the environment
  5. Economic self-reliance in employment for Kitasoo/Xai’xais people and revenue to Kitasoo/Xai’xais government

The land use plan provides detailed management objectives for each of the protected areas established throughout the territory. The stated primary objective of these protected areas is “protection of fish, wildlife, cultural and biodiversity values.” Low-impact tourism is allowed in the protected areas and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais can continue to hunt and fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. However, no timber harvesting, mining or other resource extraction can take place in protected areas.

Building on the land use plan, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais worked with other governments and stakeholders to develop the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan (CCLRMP), and negotiated and agreed to a Strategic Land Use Planning Agreement with the Province of British Columbia in 2006, which provided for a collaborative implementation of the land use planning agreements in the Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory.

Engagement Framework

In 2009, under the New Relationship Initiative, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais signed a Reconciliation Protocol with the province of BC to further identify and implement initiatives that recognize Kitasoo/Xai’xais title, rights and interests to their territory, as well as access to economic opportunities. The protocol included an engagement framework for land and resource decision making that is more efficient, effective and responsive to the interests of First Nations and the Province.

Ecosystem Based Management

Today, the Resource Stewardship Department is actively involved in the further development of Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) in the Great Bear Rainforest and the associated agreements, legislation and land use orders. EBM is a management paradigm that places an emphasis on maintaining ecosystem integrity and community well-being. These goals are in part achieved by accounting for natural variability in systems, using ecological thresholds to gauge management decisions, and ensuring economic opportunity and environmental sustainability for local communities. In the Great Bear Rainforest, EBM also means that greater management authority is shifted to First Nations governments, that the values of the local people are as important as objective knowledge, and that capacity building initiatives are implemented so that First Nations communities can benefit directly from associated employment opportunities.