An exciting project is underway.
For the first time, a comprehensive multi-layered informative map and Guide of Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound’s ocean, streams, and shorelines are being developed with the financial support of local governments from around Howe Sound and other funding partners.
The Marine Reference Guide’s goal is to build capacity to protect, restore, and be stewards of nature and communities that connect to Átl’ḵa7tsem’s ocean and freshwater.
Átl’ḵa7tsem is one of three Squamish Nation place names for Howe Sound and is used to refer to paddling down the fjord out toward the Salish Sea.
The project team conducts research, community engagement, and relationship-building to create tools and resources that effectively transform knowledge into action and support decision-making and marine spatial planning.
A steering committee supports the project’s vision of working together to achieve positive outcomes that benefit current and future generations of human and aquatic life in Átl’ḵa7tsem. The Guide is a project on Make Way’s Shared Platform (formerly Tides Canada) inspired by the Ocean Watch Howe Sound report (2017) and marine spatial planning initiatives in British Columbia (e.g., Marine Planning Partnership, Gwaii-Haanas Land-Sea-People Management Plan).
The Guide aims to create tools and resources that support marine spatial planning and decision-making by all governments, sectors, and communities.
It also aims to strengthen education and awareness of regional biodiversity and social values. The online interactive map will contain over 400 layers of data and stories about Átl’ḵa7tsem’s ocean, freshwater, and communities.
Data gathering is currently underway.
The guide will build upon the over 140 layers of information already collected and available for viewing in The Marine Conservation Map. It is a project of the David Suzuki Foundation and Ocean Wise Research. https://davidsuzuki.org/project/howe-sound/.
This comprehensive information will build decision-makers and communities’ capacity to protect critical social and ecological values from pressures such as climate change, development, and pollution.
Maps are excellent tools for capturing information, telling a story about a region, and providing a reference for making better planning decisions, whether that be a development, restoration, or conservation.
As such, this project and tool aligns well with the objectives of the Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative that is striving to be recognized by UNESCO as Canada’s 19th Biosphere Reserve. www.howesoundbri.org
The Guide seeks to braid Indigenous and settler world views and knowledge systems so that we create holistic information and resources, and build strong relationships.
Over the past two years, Squamish Nation youth Jonny Williams, Nolan Rudkowsky, and Myia Antone working on the Guide have championed the inclusion of Indigenous youth voices, values, and perspectives in regional decision-making and stewardship. They have organized shoreline clean-ups, field trips to culturally important areas in Átl’ḵa7tsem, and community workshops to learn about ethnobotany and Guardian Watchmen programs.
Through Guardian programs, Indigenous stewards work together to monitor and maintain ecosystem health and ensure that rules, regulations, and Indigenous law are followed to protect both nature and culture.
The youth are now leading research and engagement to continuously strengthen the ability for the Guide to meaningfully reflect their values and culture and create educational resources for generations to come.
The Howe Sound/Átl’ka7tsem Marine Reference Guide will be ready for use by June 2021. Never before has there been such comprehensive information about the region accessible in one place.
For planners or tourists, the tool will provide an incredible asset to dive into Átl’ḵa7tsem’s history, current zoning, science, and human uses all available online. For more information and to get in touch, please visit the Guide’s website (howesoundguide.ca) or e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ruth Simons is theExecutive Director and Project Lead for Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative. Fiona Beaty is the Project Lead, for the Marine Reference Guide.