The Golden and Area A Community Forest Team (GACFT) is working to build a mutually beneficial working relationships with First Nations communities in the area to pursue a community forest together.
The GACFT has opened discussions on a community forest partnership with the First Nations.
They are seeking to explore, together, the role local First Nations could play in the governance and stewardship of potential community forest lands and resources.
The team is eager to listen to their recommendations and concerns.
Golden and its surrounding area have a rich history of First Nations presence.
The Columbia River provided access to fishing and hunting sites and served as an important transportation route for trading for thousands of years prior to colonialization.
The area is shared traditional territory of the Qwelminte Secwepemc, Ktunaxa and Okanagan Nations. There is also a strong Metis community in Golden.
Reconciliation is a top priority for the federal and provincial governments.
Furthermore, the provincial adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the 2019 BC legislature unanimously passed B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), which legislates a process to align provincial laws with the UN Declaration.
A community forest is an incredible opportunity to forge new relationships between our Indigenous and non-Indigenous community.
As the local First Nations have their own priorities, the GACFT are working to understand and work together to build a shared vision for the poentital Golden and Area A community forest.
As a starting point for the discussions with First Nations, the GACFT formalized an interim vision for the community forest.
The interim vision is not a final vision, but a starting point to be revised as needed over time.
“Our interim vision is to proactively, as a community, manage our local forest resources and land base by the values that are important to our community,” read a statement from the team.
“We aim to provide a diversity of benefits to all of the involved communities.
“Through our operations, the community forest would provide opportunities for employment and education through a diversification of local forest product use by fostering and promoting innovation.
“We would provide a community forest model that is considerate of all forest values, not just the value of timber harvesting, and one that is economically, environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable well into the future.
“In short, the GAFCT dream is to ensure that the people of Golden, Area A and the local First Nations are the major beneficiaries of local forest resources.”
A full community consultation with all stakeholders will take place once there is a secured commitment from the B.C. government.
Given the reality of the current pandemic, there will not be in-person information sessions and public hearings.
The GACFT members are deeply grateful to the Columbia Basin Trust, CSRD Area A and Town of Golden for the funding support through the Community Initiatives, Affected Areas Program and the Economic Opportunities Funds and to the Columbia Woodlot Association for championing this project.