Pathways and Partnerships: Framework for Collaboration and Reconciliation in the Cowichan Watershed

Nutsamat kws yaay’us tth qa’:
We come together as a whole to work together
to be stronger as partners for the watershed. 

Please read and download the report of the Cowichan Watershed Board's watershed co-governance conversations, which took place from 2017-2018, between its founding partners, Cowichan Tribes First Nation and Cowichan Valley Regional District. 


The Cowichan Watershed Board (CWB) is a local governance entity created in 2010 to promote water and watershed sustainability in the Cowichan/Koksilah watersheds,
ancestral home of the Quw’utsun First Nation. Co-chaired by Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the CWB represents a unique partnership between First Nations and local government. Through this model, Cowichan Tribes and the CVRD work together to advance whole-of-watershed health, demonstrating a commitment to moving down the path of reconciliation.

Water has provided the critical vehicle to support this partnership and the opportunity to learn from each other respectfully while working towards improving the health of the
watershed. The Board has an enviable track record of planning and implementing technical work, creating a culture of water conservation, promoting science-based advocacy and implementing respectful community-based solutions.

This document outlines a Framework to guide the next steps in the Cowichan Watershed Board’s evolution. The Cowichan watershed (including the Koksilah sub-basin) faces a number of challenges to water sustainability, including threats to water quality, water supply and cumulative impacts to habitat. The CWB is seeking ways to become more effective in addressing these challenges, promote reconciliation and take advantage of opportunities associated with the Water Sustainability Act.

Recently, through the support of the BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative and the POLIS Water Sustainability Project, CWB hosted a series of workshops that led to three main outcomes:

i) Re-confirming and adding to the Principles that guide the Board’s work. Through the workshop series, an additional principle has been added to the previously endorsed
principles of Representation, Transparency, Partnerships and “Whole of watershed thinking”. The Cowichan Tribes’ principle of “Nutsamat kws yaay’us tth qa’: We come together as a whole to work together to be stronger as partners for the watershed” is now part of the CWB’s Governance Manual.

ii) Identifying three “Core Strategies” to inform how the CWB can evolve to be more effective in addressing watershed challenges:
1) Improving the CWB governance model and strengthening its partnerships
2) Using Watershed Management tools more effectively
3) Increasing the CWB’s role in watershed decision making

iii) Defining three “Pathways to Watershed Health” that outline directions for future growth:
1) Recognizing and supporting Indigenous Authority
2) Strengthening Partnerships to implement programs and processes under the current governance framework
3) Building readiness to act on opportunities in the Water Sustainability Act.

The Cowichan Watershed Board is committed to moving forward down each of the pathways as opportunities emerge, partnerships grow, and political and institutional contexts evolve.

Document Date: 20 Jun 2018
Type : Governance Document