Observations of climate change in the Heiltsuk territory (British Columbia, Canada)

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 11 May, 2017 - 11:15
, Valentina - Simon Fraser University
, Dana - Simon Fraser University
, Pauline - Community of Bella Bella
Community of Bella Bella
, Heiltsuk - Community of Bella Bella

Heiltsuk First Nation have relied on and sustainably managed the marine and coastal ecosystems in their territories for millennia. Today, many factors are threatening the social-ecological health of the Heiltsuk. We conducted semi-structured interviews (~30) with traditional knowledge holders to assess potential impacts of climate change in the Heiltsuk territory. Heiltsuk people are observing several changes. The most common observation is increased temperature and the consequent reduction of snowfall over the winter. Moreover, warmer temperatures are affecting animals and their hibernating or migrating patterns (e.g., bears, humpback whales). Informants are observing also changes in the environment that they are not relating to changes in climate, such as the decline in fish stocks due to overfishing, regulations, and allocations that do not take into consideration local knowledge of traditional fishers. These observations can contribute to increasing our understanding of how climate change and other factors are affecting the Heiltsuk territory.