Listening to diverse perspectives to inform Indigenous ecological stewardship.
The Koksilah River, Xwulqw'selu Sto'lo, Watershed (the Watershed), spanning approximately 30,000 hectares and supporting over 1,100 water users is a place of deep cultural, ecological, economic, and recreational significance. Along with human use, the Watershed supports a range of aquatic species, including salmon and trout, both of which are of importance to local First Nations, including Cowichan Tribes. Low summer flow rates in recent years have prompted several initiatives that have successfully improved watershed understanding and reduced water usage, but further work was needed to explore the relationship between water users, watershed residents and the watershed itself. This was complicated by the fact that the bulk of the Watershed is privately owned. In order to further understand and manage the Watershed, Cowichan Tribes and FLNRORD entered into a Government to Government agreement to work collaboratively, which includes scoping a Water Sustainability Plan (WSP) under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA).
MODUS led one stream of engagement process to understand the perspectives of a wide range of users, from farmers and forestry industry representatives to community leaders and regional district staff. MODUS team members conducted 13 in-depth interviews and designed a public questionnaire, culminating in a public facing and graphically designed report. At the end of the project, we surfaced tensions and misunderstandings between the various interest groups and provided recommendations to combat misinformation and steps forward for future collaboration between the user groups.