First Nations

Twenty-eight First Nations from four broad cultural groups (St’at’imc, Nlaka’pamux, Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in) use the area for sustenance, cultural and spiritual activities. Twelve have communities within the plan area and share its use with sixteen others.

About half of the people who live in the plan area are aboriginal and many of these people live in centres such as Lillooet, Lytton, Shalalth and Spences Bridge.

Aboriginal people contribute significantly to the area’s monetary economy and also participate in their own informal, traditional economy.

We call the Grizzly our brother, and so are using them as an umbrella species. If you look after the Grizzlies, everything else will be looked after.

~ Randy James, Tsal'álh

Since 2004 the St’at’mic community has been working on a Land Use Plan to develop their laws into a management plan that regards the conservation of their land, and protects their cultural heritage. The St’at’mic community is rich in culture and knowledge of the land; they are entitled to the land and have full control over it. The report is a preliminary draft from 2004 and it includes the 12 principles and views of the St’at’mic peoples, that serves as a basic foundation for the plan. The St’at’mic Land and Resource Authority (SLRA) is in charge of the plan development. The plan will include the jurisdictions of the St’at’mic and how those jurisdictions will be enforced through the Chiefs council. The most important part of the plan is the approach used by the SLRA, they are using a precautionary approach to balance uncertainties concerning data. Designation areas have been identified in order to better control and develop the plan management. Those area are protected ones in all the St’at’mic territory. They include water protections ( shown on the map), cultural heritage (e.g. ancestral tombs, historical roads). The plan will improve and allow the regulation of resource extraction (at all levels) and decrease the destruction of the territory. Additionally, areas include wildlife protection habitat and migration routes, as a majority of wildlife species are cultural symbols of the St’at’mic heritage. They are also planning on reinforcing community economic development areas and the restoration areas.

Source: St'at'mic Land Use Plan

In our language there are no words for ‘environment’ because we have always been taught that this is part of our everyday living. Our everyday teachings from our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents show us how to look after the foods that we depend on and that are part of the environment, and that’s also part of spirituality.

Ruby Dunstan, Nlaka’pamux Elder

There are 6 different communities that live in the Fraser Basin including the Coast Salish people, Nlaka’pamux, Tsilhqot’in, Secwepemc, Okanagan, St’át’imc, Wet’Suwet’en, Dakel and Sekani. Each community has it’s own language and traditions and there is importance to understand and acknowledge the past in order to create a better present and even better future for the next generations. First Nation communities most often pass down their cultural and ecological knowledge from one generation to the other and this knowledge has allowed them to survive for many centuries. A better understanding of the First Nations cultural heritage will allow cooperation between the government and the First Nations in order to share knowledge and protect the land from climate change. It is important to conserve and protect the land that we are living in, if one link of the chain breaks the whole chain fails too. Traditional and ecological knowledge from the First Nations and modern science can be put together in order to fill in the gaps that one or the other have. The future of the environment matters and several perspectives are always better than one to find a solution. Therefore cooperation between nations is essentials for environmental and wildlife conservation.

Source: Bridge Between Nations

The fishery is the most important food source for the St’át’imc and important to the economy as well. The St’át’imc live in balance with all things which makes it a priority for them to take care of the natural environment around them. The fish that is harvested the most is the salmon, or more specifically the sockeye salmon, which they harvest in the Fraser River. Other kinds of fish harvested by the St’át’imc include coho salmon, pink salmon, bull trout and chinook.

In their aboriginal fishing rights it states that the St’át’imc are allowed to fish seven days a week provided they do not harm or endanger fish populations, be included in management and conservation of the fish, to fish traditionally and use it for food and trade.

In their vision for the fisheries management they want to continue their relationship with the land. They will respect traditions and nature, be a part of management and ensure that the resources will keep providing food for future St’át’imc generations. The St’át’imc Government Services Fisheries Program wants to reduce the industrial impact of the fisheries but still maintain the benefits provided by them to the St’át’imc, bring the level of productivity of watersheds back up to what they were in the past, ensure the right of making decisions of the St’át’imc regarding resources and fisheries, and create more job opportunities. To achieve all this the St’át’imc are working together with other First Nations, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, BC Hydro and the government of Canada.

The most important parts of the implementation plan are to connect St’át’imc Knowledge with scientific research and incorporate this knowledge into management, create more career opportunities and capacity, work together with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans concerning management of the fisheries and conduct Water Use Plan Monitoring Programs. Therefore the aim is to mitigate threats to fish and habitat, restore fish populations and enhance the populations and therefore benefit nature and the St’át’imc people.

Source: Implementation Plan for the St’át’imc Government Services Fisheries Program: 2013-2017

First Nation communities are not always taken into consideration when it comes to government policies or legislation such as the BC Environmental Assessment Office. It is important to include First Nations traditional cultural and environmental knowledge of the land that would allow more options to assess and minimize environmental impacts. Thus, in regard to a solution the environmental assessment should be taken care of by a non-bias and governmental organization, that would cooperate closely with the First Nation communities. Additionally, as they are working together the organization would respect and take into account aboriginal titles and rights to their land, as well as their culture and knowledge. In order to be able to assess the impact of the projects on the environment it would be essential to link scientific knowledge to traditional knowledge, as to get a better overview of the impact. The representative would also be more willing to look at the rigorous work done of the assessment rather than with the process of assessment, as well as providing equal and effective funding for the research base and allowing the employment of a higher qualified staff. Finally, there would be assurance that enough time would be put together for forums of negotiations of accommodation or infringements of Aboriginal rights and titles.

Source: First Nations Perspectives on BC Environmental Assesment Process

The St'at'mic community is one based on traditional knowledge of the land and it's protection. Archeologists, although at first seen as negative, have helped the community conserve and protect their land, helping in majority to assess the land that forest industries want to harvest. To this purpose they have  identified cultural heritage components in various areas on maps and used resource planning, the review of biophysical maps, aerial photos, background sources, previous archaeological studies and traditional known sites. The gathering of knowledge from the elders and people from the community is effective and allows a traditional vision and principle to the land. Field work is also used to consider the nature and traditional locations. If the sites  require specific methods because evidence is underground subsurface testing can used as well as shovel testing. The archeologist part of the team has to work and answer to the Lillooet Tribal Council, as well as respect the St'at'mic values. Traditional and local knowledge was incorporated to the reports and locals that were experienced in the subject could review them. Socially and economically this process provided local employment and better cooperation between industries and communities. A few communities also developed and established a 'no-go zone' for forestry or identified areas of concern in advance on a map. For this reason forest industries preferred to work in direct relation with the communities. Furthermore, as the years went on the St'at'mic people began to harvest their own forestry operations to keep a clear eye on what could be harvest or not, and they were awarded their own forest tenure.

Source: St'at'mic Heritage Stewardship Development (Chapter 5)


  • Land use plans do not address aboriginal title, which is often the primary interest of First Nations;
  • First Nations’ land-based information and knowledge (e.g., traditional land uses, management practices, spiritual values) have not been adequately incorporated into Crown land management;
  • Some land-based information is sensitive and First Nations seek to maintain its confidentiality;
  • Some First Nations have expressed concern about difficulties accessing government information;
  • First Nations have concerns about potential impacts of resource development and uses on aboriginal rights, title and traditional uses. These concerns are heightened in certain priority areas of interest;
  • First Nations perceive that land use planning fails to adequately consider their aboriginal rights to fish, hunt and carry out other traditional practices;
  • First Nations are concerned about the cumulative effects of various types of Crown land tenure and use on the sustainability of ecosystems;
  • There are concerns from First Nations that they will not have meaningful input into plan implementation;
  • First Nations are concerned about lack of opportunities to pursue land-based economic development initiatives that build upon their knowledge, expertise, practices and interests.


  • Enhanced economic development opportunities for First Nations.
  • Sustained or enhanced cultural and environmental values.

Objectives Management Direction/Strategies Measures of Success/Targets Intent
1. Consider First Nations’ information and knowledge to strengthen land and resource management First Nations involvement in Lillooet LRMP implementation
2. Respect First Nations’ desire to protect the confidentiality of certain land-based information Sharing of information and data among First Nations, resource developers and decision makers, with appropriate confidentiality
3. Consider asserted aboriginal rights and traditional uses in resource management Concluding the identification of First Nations’ interests in new protected areas by 2006
4. Strive to improve the efficiency of consultation procedures Concluding protocol, enabling or management agreements with most First Nations by 2007
5. Develop common understandings with First Nations on sustainable resource management Resolution of First Nations’ priority areas of interest
6. Establish information and data sharing agreements with First Nations Sharing of information and data among First Nations, resource developers and decision makers, with appropriate confidentiality
7. Foster planning partnerships between First Nations and other governments or businesses (e.g., Sustainable Resource Management Plans) Implementation of protocol agreements with First Nations (e.g., Esketemc; St’at’imc) commencing in 2004
8. Identify and pursue initiatives with First Nations that support economic development (e.g., economic measures agreements) Viable First Nations land-based economic development initiatives