The 3 Nations is a partnership between the Tahltan, Kaska and Tlingit Nations. Their collective territory is a vast, remote part of northern B.C. encompassing 24 per cent of the province. The 3 Nations, and their joint efforts with the Government of B.C., is a significant example of what’s possible when partners put the UN Declaration into practice.
The 3 Nations’ leadership understands that with the rapid industrial development in the region, there is high risk of unforeseen negative impacts on their communities’ well-being. Their traditional ways of addressing these challenges were being undermined by the effects of colonization and a government service delivery struggling to meet the needs of the communities. Tensions were escalating across many relationships. This included government agencies, hunters and companies wanting to develop industrial projects in the respective 3 Nations’ territories.
What started off as planning for new child and family services in the region, led to the development of the 3 Nations’ Stikine Wholistic Working Group (SWWG) and taking a ‘community driven’ and ‘child in the centre’ approach. The Nations devoted themselves to strengthen communities, improve resiliency, and renew traditional and community-based ways of supporting families. The 3 Nations, SWWG, and the Province established a new way of working together to improve community wellbeing, healing and caring for the land.
The outcomes of this partnership have been extremely positive. The 3 Nations have reduced the number of children in care by 76 per cent, with five of the six communities having no children in government care. Of those remaining children in care, all are in First Nation families from their own community.
The strong and mutually-beneficial partnership has expanded to other priorities including education, environmental stewardship and wildlife management. This has transformed historical conflict into partnership, trust and joint success.
Although initially an unprecedented approach, this collaborative work has proven to be a highly successful model on the pathway to social reconciliation.
Together, the 3 Nations and the Province are creating social prosperity. This is being done in a way that reflects the UN Declaration, and finally addresses the social and economic statistics that have plagued First Nation communities for far too long.