Watershed security rooted in resilience, local values, and Indigenous rights and title.

 Photo Credit: Skeena Wild Conservation Trust. The field crew is conducting surveys as part of the Riparian Restoration Work on Willow Creek. This work was supported through provincial funding under the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

Indigenous Watersheds Initiative

As part of Budget 2022, the Province of BC has invested $30 million for partnerships that empower local communities to secure a sustainable future for their watersheds and the communities that depend on them. Watersheds BC and MakeWay are partnering under the Indigenous Watersheds Initiative to steward $15 million of this funding specifically to support Indigenous-led initiatives that are advancing watershed health.

The Provincial commitment builds on the previous $27 million investment in the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, led by the Real Estate Foundation of BC in partnership with Watersheds BC.

Photo Credit: Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen District of Kent is replacing a culvert on the Lower Agassiz slough to open the waterway for fish passage. This project is funded through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

The Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI) supported 61 projects, employed over 750 people and supported watershed work across BC. Through HWI, the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Circle (ILAC) and Indigenous-led projects informed a series of principles and criteria to guide how watershed funding in BC can be supported in a good way. The Indigenous Watersheds Initiative will build on the learnings of the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, particularly the advice, wisdom, principles, and recommendations from the ILAC.

The Indigenous Watersheds Initiative (IWI) will support communities working to advance their visions of watershed health and security. From restoring rivers and streams and protecting salmon habitat, to fostering future generations of watershed stewards, this work will help pave the way towards a model of watershed security that is rooted in long-term resilience, local values, and Indigenous rights and title.

Photo Credit: Ahousaht Nation.
The crew with the Ahousaht Nation is working on Anderson Creek Restoration to revitalize spawning habitat for Chum Salmon and protect the community’s drinking water through the restoration of Anderson Creek. This project is funded through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

Over the next three years, the IWI will support Indigenous-led initiatives to advance outcomes such as:

  • Stewarding watershed health through, traditional practices, monitoring, and/or guardian programs;
  • Securing safe and clean drinking water for all;
  • Sustaining local and traditional food sources;
  • Connecting communities to their watersheds;
  • Protecting and mitigating against climate change; and,
  • Advancing Indigenous laws and knowledge.

Grants provided through IWI will support a range of Indigenous-led and co-led projects. We recognize that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and that local priorities may look different from community to community. Each community is therefore best positioned to determine their own priorities.

The IWI funding will be deployed in two stages over a 3-year period and is being designed in partnership with Indigenous leaders and community members.




About Watersheds BC

Watersheds BC is a capacity-developing organization that catalyzes, supports, and strengthens local watershed governance and security. Since 2020 Watersheds BC has focused on helping advance watershed security by supporting the successful implementation of the Healthy Watersheds Initiative through a partnership with the Real Estate Foundation of BC.

For this new provincial investment, Watersheds BC will build upon the learnings and successes of the Healthy Watersheds Initiative and work with MakeWay to develop and implement the IWI, including grant making, supporting project teams with peer learning, reporting, connecting people and organizations, and sharing insights and learnings.

Contact: Zita Botelho, Director, Watersheds BC | zita@watershedsbc.ca


About MakeWay

MakeWay is a national charity and public foundation with a goal to enable nature and communities to thrive together. We do this by building partnerships, providing solutions, grants, and services for the charitable sector across the country. MakeWay Foundation is partnering with Watersheds BC (WBC) to support fund administration, regional collaboration, learning and storytelling. As a grantmaker, we have demonstrated lasting commitments supporting Indigenous-led stewardship, watershed health, governance and community-led change. Our unique shared platform model is also the operational home for Watersheds BC.

Contact: Bridgitte Taylor, Team Lead – Pacific, MakeWay  | bridgitte.taylor@makeway.org