While Indigenous communities along B.C.’s central coast have adapted to environmental changes and cared for the land for thousands of years, they are currently experiencing significant impacts from a changing climate in their traditional territories, including changes in the health of salmon populations, diminishing numbers of key species, and lower harvests of traditional foods. As the health of the land, food, communities, and people are deeply connected, these disruptions have far-reaching impacts on wellness and identity for Coastal First Nations communities. In 2020 and 2021, a Coastal First Nations Climate Adaptation Workshop Series co-hosted by the Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative (CFN-GBI) and Fraser Basin Council took place to present changes taking place and future climate scenarios, as well as actionable steps for climate preparedness, in a First Nations-centred and fun way to a coastal audience while promoting connections. The 2021 workshop consisted of three themed sessions: understanding local climate impacts and future projections, coastal case studies of climate and resilience action, and planning for the next steps in climate resilience. Focusing on lived experiences of weather and climate change, participants identified climate impacts by season. Some of the impacts identified included: rise in sea levels, increased storm surges and coastal erosion and flooding, increased severe weather and riverine flooding and erosion, wild fires, loss of species and new invasive species, algal blooms, and changes in berry ripening schedules. Future climate projections were provided by Kari Tyler of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, who also recommended several climate data portals to get more information, such as climatedata.ca, Climate Atlas of Canada, Plan2Adapt and PCIC Climate Explorer.
In 2019, the Climate Action Network was developed as part of the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative (CFN-GBI) an effort to support Climate Action Coordinators within each of the member Nations of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative through regular meetings and project support. Coastal First Nations (CFN) is a unique alliance of nine Nations (Metlakatla, Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Wuikinuxv, Skidegate, Old Massett and the Council of the Haida Nation) living on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. While each Nation has its own distinct culture, governance and territory, many are experiencing similar significant impacts of a changing climate, including coastal flooding and erosion, changes in the health of salmon populations, diminishing numbers of key species, and lower harvests of traditional foods. Climate Action Coordinators lead and support climate action within their own communities through projects such as community energy plans, emergency preparedness, food security initiatives, clean energy systems and energy efficient infrastructure. Coordinators meet regularly through the Climate Action Network to collaborate on work plans for their communities, achieve energy and climate-related goals and support each other as challenges arise. They also attend conferences and participate in training opportunities to continue to build their individual skills and capacity.