Welcome to Blueberry River First Nations Land and Resources Department

Blueberry River First Nations (Blueberry) Territory – a changing landscape

Within our current Elders’ lifetimes, the territory has transformed from a pristine land full of natural resources to a landscape now filled with unchecked anthropogenic impacts. These lands have been relied upon by our people for sustenance and trade as far back as the ice age but within the last 40 years the land has transformed to become a foreign place, where we no longer recognize it. Restoring ecological integrity and protecting what land is left, is integral to maintaining who Blueberry is as a people, including the complex relationships with the land and the continuance of livelihoods and treaty rights. Our dreamers prophesied that there would be changes ahead. The last dreamer, the late Charlie Yahey once said the ‘world made too small” and the late Tommy Attachie, head drummer and song keeper from our sister nation Doig River once said, ‘the world is upside down.’

Land and Resources Department:

The Land and Resources Department has a role to play in documenting and defining who our people once were, where we are today, and what our future may look like. It is well understood that healthy lands are required to support diverse and plentiful wildlife populations and that good water quality and quantity is also key to our continuance of our culture, traditions, and spiritual practices.

Importance of Land Stewardship

Blueberry River First Nations understands that for good resource decisions to occur that there must be co-management of the natural resources. Without consensus based decision-making and policy development, our nation can never be certain that our treaty rights interests will be protected. Only our nation can be land stewards of our territory because only we can define what is required to sustain our cultural heritage for perpetuity.

Our Lands Stewardship Goal is to sustain Treaty Rights, culture, community, and economies within the context of healthy ecosystems.

Two key principles are integral in order for our nation to reach our land stewardship goal:

Maintain ecological integrity – by sustaining the biological richness and services provided by natural terrestrial processes, including the structure, function, and composition of terrestrial, and freshwater aquatic ecosystems at all scales and through time.

Maintain the integrity of treaty right practices  – the ability to practice these rights has been impacted as development has proceeded without direct recognition of this principle. Practical support means that the rights are not infringed but rather that the landscape is manage to maintain or restore respect for treaty rights for hunting, fishing, gathering, ands access to the land and water.

Plan for Lands and Treaty Rights

Land and Treaty Rights refers to the priorities and actions that strengthen our jurisdictions over our own lands, including traditional territory, reserves lands, fee-simple lands and lands acquired through our Treaty Land Entitlement claim. Our fundamental relationship with the land, tenures, and property rights within our reserves lands and traditional territory are critical to our self-determination and economic development aspirations.

It is Blueberry River First Nations priority to manage our traditional territory to balance our community’s cultural and economic values. Development and conservation activities in our territory will meet our community’s values through the following actions:

Staffing

Our Land and Resources Department works to further Blueberry River First Nations interests in the area of land stewardship. Our staff include:
Neha – 250-630-2823 Neha holds an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management (HBEM) from Lakehead University with an emphasis on forestry. Neha previously worked as our Oil and Gas Project Officer and piloted our new Oil and Gas Pre-Engagement Process. Neha’s current position entails managing Forestry Referrals, related field work, community engagement and participation on the RSEA IM Forestry Flex Team which is a collaboration between industry proponents, provincial government and Blueberry River First Nations. Important consultation processes and tools are being developed that ensure the highest level of community engagement for our forestry decision model

Mae – 250-630-2816 email

Mae graduated from BCIT completing the Fish, Wildlife and Recreation diploma program in 2017 and the Ecological Restoration BSc program in 2019. Mae is passionate about invasive species management, boreal forest restoration, freshwater ecology, and reciprocal restoration. Mae is Blueberry River First Nations representative for the T8 Restoration Committee and in her spare time is a director of Society for Ecological Restoration – Western Canada Chapter. Mae is designated as a project manager in the CABIN wadeable streams protocol and recently received certificates in  traditional Ecological Knowledge and Low-tech Process-based Riverscape Restoration. Mae has field experience in riparian restoration and fish habitat assessment and in a short period of time has built Blueberry River First Nations water program that includes new hydrometric stations, CABIN sampling, stream monitoring and assessment, weather station monitoring, ground water monitoring and eDNA sampling.

Darian – 250-630-2845 email
Darian completed her BSc in Environmental Sciences in 2016 at the University of Saskatchewan and her MSc in Ecological Restoration in2019 at Simon Fraser University and BCIT. Darian is the lead for wildlifethemed projects and works closely with Mae on land-restoration projects like the oil and gas dormant sites initiative. Community knowledge is incorporated into every aspect of her work. Darian is prioritizing the utilization of our nations knowledge base in order to move forward the protection of wildlife and wildlife features and is passionate about ecologically appropriate restoration that supports wildlife recovery for species important in supporting the treaty right. Darian also supports the community garden at Blueberry River First Nation.
Joanna – 250-630-2819 email
Joanna is part of the Aboriginal Liaison Program (ALP) which works closely with the provincial government to both identify compliance based community concerns and to conduct weekly oil and gas inspections with our Aboriginal Liaison Project Officer. Joanna works closely with the Davis, Wolf and Yahey family groups. Joanna also works as a liaison connecting our members with cultural or construction monitor employment opportunities. Other casual employment opportunities include biophysical studies or archeology support.
TBD – 250-630-2826 email This is our second position working in the ALP with the late Dan and Ed Apsassin families. In addition to weekly oil and gas site inspections, TBD also works closely with the Compliance Project Officer on the implementation of weekly construction monitor site visits. During these field reviews, both TBD and Joanna have an opportunity to check in with site supervisors and our members working on oil and gas construction sites. TBD also offers casual employment opportunities to members, including real-time referral assessments for forestry and oil and gas.
Blueberry River First Nations newest positon to support water quality and quantity monitoring initiatives, development of water related employment opportunities and referral review and response for water related proposed projects.

250-630-2820-

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