By: The Working Forest Staff
The B.C. government and the Tŝilhqot’in Nation will work together to ensure a sustainable moose population and harvest in the Tŝilhqot’in territory (Chilcotin) through an agreement signed Sept. 28, 2018.
“This agreement accelerates our commitments under the 2016 Nenqay Deni Accord,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “We recognize moose are a critical source of food, social and ceremonial hunting for Tsilhqot’in communities and it’s understandable that they want a stronger voice in how moose are managed.”
Moose populations in the Tŝilhqot’in Territory have declined in the past decade as a result of a number of factors. Under the Moose Co-Management Agreement, both parties will partner on setting up a framework for the co-management of wildlife.
“Our people have been dealing with moose management issues for a long time now. Management of wildlife populations and our food sources are always at the centre of our work as First Nations people. A lot of our members live in poor economic conditions with hunting and fishing as their prime source of food. Many of our members and communities have chosen to not hunt for moose, which should not go understated,” stated Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman for the Tŝilhqot’in National Government. “Coming to an understanding with the Province is a chance opportunity to start developing a long-term mutually respectful relationship that is grounded in recognition of our Nation’s rights and title. Circumstances of the environment have changed drastically in the past few years – it’s time to change old plans and do things differently. We are looking forward to the opportunity for larger discussions around moose management with input from all users.”
Chief Russell Myers Ross, Vice Chair for the Tŝilhqot’in National Government also said, “This is a rocky road to reconciliation. We are going through conflict right now and trying to seek solutions. We acknowledge that there are many interests in the moose population in our area but at the end of the day we want to make sure our food sources are secure for the future. We appreciate the Minister’s commitment to have a respectful resolution for next year. This next phase of work will be critical if we are going to achieve that goal. Now the real work begins.”
The agreement supports commitments under the Nenqay Deni Accord to take a collaborative approach on land and resource management, with shared decision making that integrates science and traditional knowledge. The agreement will:
- Guide the establishment of a government-to-government shared decision-making process to co-manage wildlife in a manner that incorporates the parties’ respective decision-making responsibilities, interests, values, roles and responsibilities.
- Result in a co-developed and co-hosted moose roundtable workshop with the goal of bringing representatives of neighbouring Indigenous nations and stakeholders who wish to constructively engage in finding solutions to the moose decline in the region.
- Set the foundations to work together to promote timber harvesting and forest management practices that restore and enhance moose habitat and address interactions with other wildlife species.
The moose management agreement sets a path forward for an innovative approach to shared decision making for moose management. It accelerates work already underway under the historic 2016 Nenqay Deni Accord, which paved the way for a comprehensive and lasting reconciliation between the Tŝilhqot’in Nation and the Province, reducing conflicts over lands and resources and developing strategies for consensus building.
The Province will continue to work with all First Nations across the Cariboo-Chilcotin region to ensure open, productive dialogue on moose management.