Coastal Guardian Watchmen: Stewarding the Coast for All – A Case for Investment

Working collaboratively with the Capital Regional District and Southern Gulf Islands Community Economic SustainabilityCommission,EcoPlan helped develop Experience the Gulf Islands, a unique inter-island community tourism strategy for the Southern Gulf Islands (Galiano, Mayne, North and South Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna).  Designed to build on and support existing island tourism and community development initiatives, Experience the Gulf Islands Concept Plan represents an innovative, broader strategy that looks to coordinate and enhance community tourism planning across the region as whole (i.e., both the Salt Spring and Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Areas); the concept plan explicitly recognizes and seeks to realize the larger social, environmental, and economic contributions of community tourism, and looks to build an archipelago-wide mobility network and organization for developing the unique experience that is the Sout

The Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative (CFN) project was initiated to comprehensively evaluate the contributions of Coastal Guardian Watchmen, particularly focusing on the value of current investments and the need for secure core funding. This investigation aimed to understand how these contributions benefit a wide array of stakeholders, including governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, non-Indigenous coastal communities, resource-based industries, tourists, and other resource users. Central to this analysis is the question of the Case for Investment. Historically, the First Nations along British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii have been guardians of their territories. In recent times, the member Nations of CFN have established stewardship offices, including Coastal Guardian Watchmen, essential for effective territorial stewardship. This report seeks to explore the extent to which this stewardship, and the associated investment in Coastal Guardian Watchmen, is justified. It questions whether the investment should be sustained or expanded and examines these initiatives’ value from the perspectives of the general public and the provincial and federal governments tasked with public service.

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