Choiyoji Environmental Management

Qooluun Ventures has successfully developed environmental strategies that include the development of Public-Private Partnerships to undertake marine surveys, environmental assessments, accredited environmental capacity development, incorporation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Environmental Assessments, Accreditation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Environmental Training Programs, Comparative Analysis, Communication Strategies, and the development of Science Center of Excellence on Environmental Policy. 

Our modeling incorporated traditional-knowledge based academic expertise with traditional academic structure to ensure the process was collaborative and met the tough regulatory standards while having community-based values. 

The Qooluun model for environmental management has deep roots that formally began at the Na-na-kila Institute from 1997 to 2003 and continued to evolve during 2001 - 2009 through the Office of the Chief Councilor of Kitamaat Village Council. 

By way of background the Na na kila Institute was the local Haisla environmental organization that was initiated out of the collaboration with other Environmental NonGovernment Organizations (ENGOs) during the Kitlope Protection Campaign. That united effort culminated in West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. voluntarily giving up their logging right to the Kitlope Valley in 1994.

Our philosophy at that time was to embrace the Precautionary Principle and use constitutionally protected Aboriginal Title and Rights, political leverage, and communications to shape the outcome.

By necessity, our model evolved through cultural, political, and economic influences coordinated out of the Office of the Chief Councilor. We moved from the strict lens of the Precautionary Principle towards the practice of environmental risk management and mitigation where we believed employment and collaboration existed. To a community where the chronic level of unemployment was a steady 63% the transition was very important because we believed that Haisla opportunities within development could exist if the environmental stewardship and environmental response structures were properly defined.

We designed our processes to ensure that Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) that our membership understands to a great extent was incorporated into corporate permitting needs and regulatory requirements of the Crown.

In such difficult circumstances where TEK normally conflicts with scientific method the common denominator were Haisla Capacity building efforts that were merged into detailed collaborative efforts with industry and academic institutions.

Phase I

In 1996 the Province of British Columbia and the Haisla agreed on a framework to establish the Huchsduwachsdu Nuyem Jees/Kitlope Heritage Conservancy Protected Area (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/cnsrvncy/kitlope/). The Kitlope Protected Area is the largest intact coastal temperate Rain Forest left standing in the world. 

Phase II

On one hand First Nations have lands and resources that are subject to unresolved Land Claims. On the other hand, industry has interests in the factors of production that enable businesses to operate. First Nation certainty is based on being able to pick and choose how the lands and resources are used and for what purpose. Corporate certainty is based on those factors of production to be free and clear of risk.

For most First Nation People, it is not about the money when it comes to development. Environmental security is a crucial element for defining the foundation of certainty because First Nations depend on the resources that the lands, waters, and resources provide. With such a high degree of chronic unemployment, we First Nations depend on fish, wildlife, and cultural resources more than anyone else.