Gitga'at First Nation and WWF-Canada forge groundbreaking partnership

Signatories of new protocol agreement will work together to protect territory and develop sustainable economic opportunities on the North Coast of B.C.

HARTLEY BAY, BC, Oct. 4, 2016 /CNW/ - At a signing ceremony last night in Hartley Bay, representatives of the Gitga'at and WWF-Canada committed to a mutually beneficial partnership to further their shared goals of marine protection and community prosperity. The agreement, the first of its kind for the Gitga'at and WWF-Canada, lays a foundation for economic development in the region that is independent from resource exploitation. Gitga'at territory encompasses approximately 12,500 square kilometres of land and water, and is the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. The lands and waters are home to abundant salmon, orcas, humpback whales and the iconic Spirit Bear, and they have sustained the Gitga'at culturally, spiritually and economically since time immemorial.

The agreement:

  • Recognizes Gitga'at sovereignty, title and ownership of Gitga'at lands and waters and the authority to govern activities and protect the Great Bear Rainforest according to traditional laws and customs.
  • Recognizes the expertise of WWF-Canada in marine conservation, and its proven capacity to implement viable conservation approaches that respect the needs and traditions of communities.
  • Confirms that the parties will work collaboratively to develop a marine-protection strategy for the territory and explore sustainable economic development.

Art Sterritt, Gitga'at communication lead says:
"The Gitga'at people have a long history of protecting our territory and the marine resources that sustain our nation. Our goals are not short-term profits, and we are not willing to go down the road of creating a dependency on a single industry such as oil and gas. The decisions we make about how our land and waters are managed can have a global impact, and we want to work jointly with WWF-Canada to ensure the continued sustainable use of our natural resources."

David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada says:
"We have an opportunity to support each other's goals. This agreement is based on the fact both WWF-Canada and the Gitga'at believe that community benefits go hand-in-hand with environmental protection. Our partnership is about protecting the land, water, plants and animals under Gitga'at stewardship so the community receives long-term benefits."
The Gitga'at and WWF-Canada have collaborated for almost 15 years, working on projects including initiating the development of the territory's first Marine Use plan in 2002, and building local capacity to monitor underwater noise from shipping and its effects on whales.

About the Gitga'at First Nation
The Gitga'at people have lived in our territory since ancestral times, dependent upon its abundance and richness. We have never ceded, sold, or surrendered our territory and rights to anyone. Our well-being is intricately related to the integrity of our environment and the abundance of natural resources, and our culture and society will only thrive if both are well stewarded and sustained. For more information visit gitgaat.net.

About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more info visit wwf.ca.

SOURCE WWF-Canada

For further information: Art Sterritt, Gitga'at Communication Lead,+1 604-868-9110; Catharine Tunnacliffe, Communications Specialist, ctunnacliffe@wwfcanada.org, +1 647-268-9686.

RELATED LINKS
www.wwf.ca

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