The objective is to maintain and improve the natural environment on reserve lands
By James Rose
Journalist Local Journalism Initiative
Under the direction of Shuswap Band Biologist Braydi Rice, 29, the Shuswap Band is developing an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). An EMP is a statement of the objectives, actions and strategies that a First Nations community pursues to maintain or improve the quality of the environment on reserves, while respecting its obligations under the “framework agreement”. . The “Framework Agreement” refers to the First Nations Land Management Framework Agreement, a landmark government-to-government agreement signed in 1996 between thirteen First Nations communities to opt out of the 44 sections of the Act. Indians relating to land. The agreement recognizes the inherent right of First Nations to govern their reserve lands.
An EMP is a powerful expression of environmental governance of First Nations lands, helping to respect the original spirit and intent of the agreement. Writing an EMP takes time and involves raising awareness in the community.
Rice had previously held an open house at the end of July for members of the Shuswap Band to attend and provide feedback on the community’s major environmental concerns. “An EMP is about examining current concerns about the environment and the priorities of the Shuswap community,” says Rice.
Rice, who is Métis, grew up in the valley. She didn’t think she could get home so soon until she saw the biologist job offer in 2020. “My dad encouraged me to apply and here I am! she said laughing. Rice holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Memorial University, an MA in Forestry from the University of British Columbia and a Graduate Diploma.
Prior to joining the Shuswap Band as a Resident Biologist, she worked for several years in the field of conservation and land management at Bangor University in the UK. She had worked for several years in the Lower Mainland as a consultant to First Nations communities. “As a consultant, I was helping First Nations write their own EMPs, among other things,” she says. For Rice, to come home and work for the Shuswap Band, she was able to bring her experience and work to create an EMP without the help of outside consultants.
Feedback Rice received after the first open house suggested to her that fish habitat was the number one priority among members of the Shuswap Band. The July Open House was the first of two. The second is being planned, which should take place in October. When it does, members can look forward to an event. “There will be a dinner, prizes, activities for the kids, work,” says Rice. After the second open house, Rice will work to compile the second set of comments, create the top ten environmental priorities, and then begin writing the actual EMP for the Shuswap Band Reserve, which has a total area of 1,077.62 hectares.