Building Trails and Growing Allies: Aboriginal Rights and the Environmental Movement in British Columbia

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Amity Doolittle
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A history of unresolved legal issues of title and rights has resulted in the First Nations of British Columbia, Canada holding a unique socio-legal status in the province that requires industries, the government and other outside entities to consult with indigenous groups before implementing projects within their territory. Outside groups, including environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and resource-based companies, have recognized the influence that First Nations have over their territory and sought to form alliances. The Wilderness Committee is an example of one ENGO which has partnered with First Nation communities by inserting its conservation agenda into the framework of community development, with mixed results for both objectives. Focusing primarily on the relationship with the St’at’imc Nation, especially the Seton Lake Band, this paper will analyze two actions taken by the Wilderness Committee: a trail building project and a community farm project in order to evaluate the costs and benefits of this partnership and to discuss what this case study signifies for the potential for future collaboration between First Nation communities and Western environmentalists.