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CREATING A WATERSHED PLAN

Cowichan Tribes Chief Lydia Hwitsum and Honourable Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, Nathan Cullen, sign historic Government-to-Government Xwulqw'selu Planning Agreement. May 12th 2023. Photo by Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen.

Over the next 3 years Cowichan Tribes and BC will be developing a whole of Watershed plan with a final draft ready by 2026. Read the full Vision and Priorities of Cowichan Tribes and the Province of BC for the Watershed here in the Government-to Government Agreement

Mandate

Ist' hwialasmut tu Xwulqw'selu Sta'lo' – We are taking care of the Koksilah River

Under the May 2023 Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement, each Government partner (Cowichan Tribes and BC) is recognized as an equal authority with distinct laws and responsibilities. S-xats-thut tst (May 2023, G2G Agreement) is a commitment between Cowichan Tribes and the Province of BC to each other, to their communities, to the Xwulqw’selu (Koksilah) watershed and to all of the living beings who call it home. It is an agreement to plan, decide, and share responsibility and accountability for the future of the watershed. S-xats-thut is a historic and powerful step towards reconciliation.

The Planning Phase will conclude with the submission of a recommended Plan for the Whole of the Watershed. The government partners recognize that everyone has a role to play in achieving healthy waters, healthy forests, and healthy communities. For this reason, plan recommendations may be directed not only towards the provincial government, but also towards local government, federal government, community associations, watershed residents, and industry partners.  The plan will include a Water Sustainability Plan (WSP), a novel legal tool introduced under the Water Sustainability Act. In other words, the WSP is nested within the overarching plan for the Watershed. Implementation of the WSP and broader watershed plan will be ongoing. 

Teachings

Cowichan Tribes’ snuw’uy'ulh (teachings) and syuw’entst (proper ways of being) guide they’tal’ (relationship-building) between Cowichan Tribes and the Province of BC, and the Watershed planning process.

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Early in the process (2019-2020) language lessons and cultural teachings for the BC Government team were an important element of the Scoping process to determine whether a collaborative legal process was possible. It was necessary to build trust and understanding between the governments as a first step towards integrating Indigenous ways of knowing and managing watersheds within a provincial planning framework. The Watershed Plan process offers everyone involved opportunities to learn – through reflection, discussion, practice, and seeking guidance – about how snuw’uy’ulh and syuw’entst can be applied for the benefit of all. 

"This is the Province beginning the humbling work of acknowledging what has always been, which is the authorities of the peoples here since time immemorial, to make decisions over what happens here for the future."​

- Minister Nathan Cullen, at the May 2023 Xwulqw'selu Watershed Planning Agreement Signing

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