Indigenous Watersheds Initiative FAQ

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. MakeWay and Watersheds BC are partnering under the Indigenous Watersheds Initiative to steward $15 million of this funding to support Indigenous-led and co-led initiatives that are advancing watershed health.

This latest commitment builds on a previous $27 million dollar investment in the Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI) led by Watersheds BC and the Real Estate Foundation of BC. HWI supported 61 projects and employed over 750 people across BC. These projects helped communities adapt to climate change, protect drinking water, restore critical habitat, and advance implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We are excited to build on this momentum by stewarding further investments into the critical work being led by Indigenous communities across the region.

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. Specifically, this funding will help:

  • Restore and maintain ecosystem services and watershed health;
  • Support climate resiliency;
  • Connect community members to their land, cultures, languages, and traditions;
  • Increase community education and engagement on watershed health;
  • Maintain and create jobs; and,
  • Support UNDRIP implementation.

There will be two funding rounds. Round One is open from May 16th – June 6th, 2022. Applicants will receive notification of notional approval by the end of June. The process for the Round Two is being developed and will be shared in the coming months. Round Two will focus on Indigenous led organizations that were not previously funded through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

This funding program will support Indigenous-led initiatives working towards advancing visions of watershed stewardship and security. This may look different from watershed to watershed. Communities will determine their own priorities. However, core funding themes may include:

  • 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
  • Advancing Indigenous laws and knowledge

Round One of funding is available to:

  1. Current or previous Indigenous-led or co-led Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI) project proponents. Funds can be used for new work or to further existing work. Applicants can apply for multi-year support.
  2. Indigenous-led organizations who were partners in a non-Indigenous-led HWI funded projects and did not receive direct HWI funding.

Project work will need to be completed by December 2024. Each community can submit a maximum of 2 projects for consideration.

Round Two of funding will focus on Indigenous-led organizations that were not previously funded through HWI. The process and governance for the second phase is being developed, building on the Learnings and Principles shared by the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Circle. More information will be shared in the coming months.

We encourage organizations interested in future funding to support the BC Watershed Security Coalition’s efforts to bring its collective voice on two priorities articulated in provincial government mandate letters: 1) a BC Watershed Security Strategy, and 2) a BC Watershed Security Fund.

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 to support grant administration, regional collaboration, learning and storytelling. As a grant maker, 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.

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 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.