Watersheds of Change Workshop

On March 6 and 7, 2023, 42 experts and leaders gathered in Terrace to discuss the science and stewardship of four northern watersheds—the Taku, Stikine, Nass, and Skeena. Participants included people associated with many Bands, First Nations, and First Nations organizations, several universities, and many others.

The inspiration for this gathering derived from conversations with many people who are thinking and taking action towards climate resilience of the salmon watersheds of the north. What can be done to steward these changing systems for thriving people and salmon into the uncertain future? This question weaves together many topics that include watershed science, salmon management, land-use planning, and Indigenous Rights.


An integrated vision of pathways forward.

Discussions revealed that there are diverse and interconnected opportunities and challenges to the vision of thriving and resilient watersheds. The following intertwined categories of opportunities were discussed:

  • Challenge colonial policies. There is a continued need to engage with and pressure colonial policies that otherwise can enable short-term resource extraction and erode resilience.
  • Uplift Indigenous governance. Indigenous Peoples and governments are leading revolutionary approaches for proactive management and decision-making of these watersheds, including new policies for industries, land-use plans, and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.
  • Advance collaborative science and knowledge. There is an opportunity for collaborative science to perform forward-looking assessments of risks and opportunities to help catalyze and support watershed stewardship. 
  • Ongoing stewardship of salmon-people-place. There is a need to continue to build on the active stewardship of the interconnected relationships among people, place, and salmon such as through: Indigenous guardian programs, cultural activities that connect youth and elders, ceremonies, and being out on the land, salmon ecosystem monitoring programs, and active mitigation of climate change impacts.  
  • Collaboration and connections. These different opportunities are interconnected and can help catalyze each other. In addition, across regions and groups, there is an important opportunity to learn from each other.
  • Key Challenge and Opportunity: As different First Nations advance their stewardship of these watersheds, there is an opportunity for co-learning and sharing lessons and challenges, as well as continuing to pressure the Provincial government to support rather than impede these globally-important models for forward-looking stewardship.
  • Key Challenge and Opportunity: Science that combines spatial analyses and forward-looking climate analyses can help identify oncoming shifts in salmon habitats, such as identifying the locations of habitats that represent future opportunities for salmon. This information could help support, inform, and catalyze forward-looking land-use planning or decision-making.
  • Key Challenge and Opportunity: From Indigenous guardians to fisheries programs, there is a need for active and ongoing stewardship of salmon, people, and place and these relationships in this era of rapid change. 
  • Key Challenge and Opportunity: Additional gatherings could help foster connections and collaborations, with a particular focus on actions for advancing proactive stewardship of northern watersheds.


Workshop Materials

  1. Science papers can be found at:  https://www.jonwmoore.org/northernrivers2023
  2. Maps can be found at: https://maps.skeenasalmon.info/maps/?limit=5&offset=0
  3. Backgrounder: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U-wqwxB5a-3fFucg_dhvMHKVpHaW0Mab/view?usp=share_link 

Online Resources

  1. Gitanyow land-use plan and governance structure
  2. Taku River Tlingit announcement for IPCA


  1. Gitanyow IPCA video
  2. Yukon First Nations Youth Climate Action Fellowship
  3. CBC True Survivors: this CBC episode of the Nature of Things includes collaborative work on the Taku
  4. Smolt: a short film on juvenile salmon migration featuring the Skeena River

Upper Nass Watershed Facilitator
Linda Matthews