For 26-year-old Dallas Nikal, protecting the environment and ensuring First Nations play a leadership role in managing natural resources in their ancestral territories is vital.
A member of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, Dallas is part of a First Nations team working on environmental projects in the Skeena region. Currently, these projects are focused on monitoring wetland health and function, fish habitat and watershed condition, moose habitat, Grizzly bear habitat and medicinal plants.
“We are dedicated to providing the highest quality information possible and helping our Nations manage and protect their resources,” said Dallas. “This can only be achieved by government and First Nations working together as partners and the government is learning and respecting First Nations' values.”
Support for the work of Dallas and other First Nations members in regions throughout northern B.C. is being provided through the B.C. government’s Liquefied Natural Gas Environmental Stewardship Initiative (LNG ESI) and a $30-million fund created to address First Nations' environmental priorities and provide a new collaborative approach to resource stewardship.
It’s the first initiative of its kind in Canada and participating First Nations in the Skeena region include the Gitanyow Nation, Office of the Wet’suwet’en (representing Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs), Lake Babine Nation, Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Gitxsan Nation. LNG ESI is one way the Province and First Nations are working to incorporate Aboriginal values into resource management decisions and ensuring the best measures are put in place.
To date, representatives from approximately 30 First Nations throughout northern B.C., industry, and the federal and provincial governments have participated in LNG ESI meetings and workshops to develop regional environmental stewardship projects and governance structures. It’s part of a partnership between the Province, Government of Canada, First Nations and industry that will result in high-quality, accessible and trusted environmental information.
In addition to sitting on the Skeena region scientific technical committee of 10 to 14 members, Dallas is also part of a smaller team that conducts water sampling of the upper Morice River using provincially-accepted monitoring methods. He is excited about the potential of what’s being undertaken in the Skeena region and looks to the future with a strong sense of purpose and history.
“My goal is to work on Wet’suwet’en territory protecting the life and culture of our people,” said Dallas. “Our stories about the land have always been an inspiration to me to protect what we have. I feel blessed that I’m able to be doing this work, not just for my Nation, but for the benefit of everyone in the Skeena region.”
Edward HillMedia Relations
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations