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First Nations Lead Transition to Conservation-Based Economy in Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii

The last decade has seen the creation of more than 100 businesses, 1,000 permanent jobs and 14 regional monitoring and Guardian Watchmen programs through conservation finance program

The grizzly bears of Glendale Cove are the stars that draw international visitors to Knight Inlet Lodge. They are also the catalyst for one of the more than 100 successful First Nations businesses launched with the help of Coast Funds, an Indigenous-led conservation finance organization created through the 2006 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.

“It is 100 per cent First Nations owned and it opened up our eyes to opportunities beyond resource extraction and shone a light on the opportunities and benefits of ecotourism,” Dallas Smith, president of Nanwakolas Council and Knight Inlet Lodge, told The Narwhal.

The former fishing lodge was bought two years ago from Dean and Kathy Wyatt by Nanwakolas — representing the Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala, Mamalilikulla, Tlowitsis, Wei Wai Kum and K’omoks First Nations — with a $6-million investment from Coast Funds, which allocates funds across the Indigenous communities of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.