Unfortunately, the BC Liberal government has shown no desire to understand what is really happening in Phillips Arm and they have chosen the path of ignorance in order to avoid dealing with the dire consequences of their actions. Instead of working with Kwiakah First Nation to find effective means for the protection of the Phillips watershed, the BC government is relying on their lack-luster efforts at consultations that do not even remotely meet the basic requirements for “meaningfulness".
With the implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order (GBRLOU), the environment of Phillips Arm has been dealt the final blow – the consequences of the steps taken subsequent to the GBR Order will lead to the environmental collapse of the Phillips watershed. The GBR agreement was negotiated by the BC Liberal government, the Nanwakolas Council (a First Nation umbrella organization), forest licensees and environmental NGOs – without input from Kwiakah.
The GBR Order will result in some form of protection of the Great Bear Rainforest (in particular in the northern sections). However, the southern sections – and Phillips Arm forms the southernmost tip of the GBR area – will bear the brunt of future logging activities and the Phillips watershed will see less protection than it was previously granted under BC’s ecosystem based management efforts (EBM).
Kwiakah First Nation decided to bring the “Phillips Watershed Recovery Initiative” to life in an effort to inform the general public about the real impacts of the Great Bear Rainforest Order and to let all British Columbians know what the impacts of the Order are going to be on Kwiakah lands and waters. In addition, this information campaign will help to educate the public about the negative impacts of forestry and fish farming on the environment of the Phillips watershed and Phillips Arm
Premier Christie Clark is calling the GBR agreement “BC’s gift to the world”. It is the intent of this information campaign to tell the general public the truth and provide the real facts. The public needs to know that the GBR Order is a compromise that does not go far enough in its efforts to protect the Great Bear Rainforest and that the premier’s gift to the world turned out to be a “white elephant” for small First Nations like Kwiakah who pay the price for the limited protection of some areas of the Great Bear Rainforest.
The PWR Initiative has been brought to life by the members of the Kwiakah First Nation – a small First Nation in British Columbia.
Phillips Arm and the Phillips River Watershed are the core of the traditional territory of Kwiakah and its members have called it home since before the arrival of Europeans. Unfortunately, less than 100 years ago, unscrupulous government decisions pushed the Kwiakah people out of their territory. However, they have never surrendered their Aboriginal rights and title to their Indigenous homelands.
Today, Kwiakah territory is under siege by industrial activities like commercial logging and finfish aquaculture (fish farms).
Decades of poor government decisions – none of them based on solid scientific facts but on political and economic interests instead – have brought the environment of the Phillips to its knees.
The population collapse of key indicator species like the majestic grizzly bear is imminent and the Phillips River salmon populations are in steady and inexorable decline.
Despite its small size and limited financial resources, Kwiakah First Nation has invested substantially in critically important research to show the BC Liberal government under Premier Christie Clark the dangerous and undesired consequences of their faulty decision-making.