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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Making the New Relationship work : Crown-First Nation shared decision-making in the Great Bear Rainforest Bird, Laura Marie

Abstract

Many of the First Nations of British Columbia, and the Province itself through the vision of the New Relationship, are seeking institutions for shared decision-making regarding land and resources. Efforts have faced numerous setbacks, including the cancellation of the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act in 2009. These setbacks, mirrored by slow progress in British Columbia’s treaty negotiations, leave the Province and First Nations of British Columbia still in search of an agreeable approach to planning and governing land and resource use. The framework developed between the Crown and the Coastal First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest since 2001 is among the most advanced cases of Crown-First Nations shared decision-making and provides insight into some of the principles of First Nations consultation, accommodation and land use planning for British Columbia and Canada. The objectives of this thesis are two-fold. First, this thesis assesses whether the Coastal First Nations have acquired a share of governmental decision-making authority for three types of decisions: land use zones, ecosystem-based management (EBM) operating rules, and approval of operational plans. Second, this thesis provides an overview of the unique government-to-government process that evolved for the resource management for British Columbia’s North and Central Coast, and the framework for shared decision-making that has been established between the Crown and the Coastal First Nations regarding the three land use planning decision functions under investigation. This thesis concludes that, due to the nature of the agreements under Canadian law, the Province ultimately retains decision-making authority on all three decision functions, but the Parties have committed to making decisions by consensus for each of the three functions. To date, the Province and the Coastal First Nations have succeeded in reaching consensus on the designation of land use zones and EBM operating rules, and are now beginning engagement on operational plan approval. Using parallel agreements by the Haida Nation for comparison, this thesis concludes that the Haida Nation, a member of the Coastal First Nations, has acquired a share of governmental decision-making authority that will stand as a closely watched case of Crown-First Nation shared decision-making in British Columbia.

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