By: Chief Jen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
I grew up on the water of Burrard Inlet, going clam digging with my aunt and getting crabs. We would spend the days in the summer playing along the log booms. We were out there all day every day. It was the best playground for us growing up. My cousin Peggy and I would spend the day in a row boat every single day. That was 40 years ago. In my lifetime. That is not possible any more. The children within our Tsleil-Waututh community are not able to enjoy growing up in the inlet the same way that I was able to. In one generation, things have shifted. My hope is that that will soon change.
Today is a significant day for our Tsleil-Waututh community. Today, on behalf of myself and our newly elected Tsleil-Waututh Nation Council, as well as the Chiefs and Council Members that have come before us, and the staff our Treaty, Lands and Resources Department, I signed an Agreement with Canada that is an Environmental Stewardship Agreement for the Burrard Inlet. The agreement was signed by four Federal Government Ministers as well, including the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport and the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, signed the Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Agreement.
Through this Agreement, we have agreed to establish a joint Tsleil-Waututh – Crown Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Secretariat that will coordinate stewardship activities and scientific research and analysis in our Inlet. A Secretariat has been created that will provide a unique forum for Tsleil-Waututh and multiple federal departments to work together on environmental stewardship activities.
The Agreement includes a $20 million investment over ten years to maintain the Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Fund. The fund will be managed by our Nation’s Treaty, Lands and Resources Department to support their stewardship activities in Burrard Inlet and our participation in the Secretariat.
This agreement supports the ongoing stewardship work that our Tsleil-Waututh community has been doing since time out of mind. This funding will allow our Treaty, Lands, and Resources Department staff to plan work based on Tsleil-Waututh needs, priorities and timelines, rather than planning around inconsistent external funding for activities defined by others. This is one step towards restoring Tsleil-Waututh’s rightful governance role in Burrard Inlet. This agreement and the work that will follow will support Tsleil-Waututh’s efforts to restore the health of Burrard Inlet, to work together with others in the Burrard Inlet community, and to strengthen and maintain our communities’ connections to the water and life of the territory. This agreement will allow us to build upon these successes with the ability to plan long-term and collaboratively. We’re excited for what is now possible.
To read more on the official announcement see here.