Indigenous people have been governing marine territories by their own legal traditions since time immemorial. Indigenous legal orders are distinct, and despite the imposition of Canadian law and authority over Indigenous territories, these legal traditions live on in the present alongside Canadian law.
Because of their inherent jurisdiction in their territories and according to their own laws, Indigenous people have a legal obligation to care for the lands and waters they inhabit. This occurs at many levels, from the designation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), to marine spatial planning and monitoring activities, and enforcement of Indigenous laws in coastal territories.
At West Coast, we work to uphold Indigenous laws on both land and sea. We support the work of Indigenous nations to revitalize and apply their laws, and create respectful relationships between Canadian and Indigenous laws.
Photo credit: Georgia Lloyd-Smith