Established in 1931 the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia (NBBC) is recognized as Canada’s oldest active Native organization, and a senior BC fishing organization. The NBBC was formed by a group of coastal villages solely for the betterment of Native people.

Over the years, the Brotherhood has been a very powerful voice on fisheries issues, and on many other concerns affecting the well being of BC’s native coastal communities. As the organization grew so did its achievements. These included, for example, a better education system, the right to vote for Native people, improved medical care, better jobs and better living conditions at the canneries.


The NBBC has been and continues to be anchored by its Constitution that has objectives: ‘to advance the social, spiritual, economic and physical conditions of its members, including higher standards of education, health and living conditions, and to cooperate with recognized organizations and Government departments which concern themselves with the advancement of Indian welfare’.


Five years ago, the NBBC was told to go back to its economic and social ‘roots’, and was given a strong mandate from many coastal First Nations to facilitate the implementation of management and development strategies that will focus on capacity building, and that will include but not be restricted to fisheries, all other marine resources, tourism, eco-tourism, forestry and other resources with economic potential and opportunities.


The NBBC gains it support and strength through two processes, signed up members and its annual Convention.

With respect to membership, the NBBC currently has two basic membership categories. The first is a paid up individual member, of which there are currently about 450 who reside through out coastal British Columbia. The second is through a Charter Community Membership whereby a First Nation signs their members on. There are currently about 6000 such members.

For almost three quarters of a Century the annual Convention has been the vehicle that gives the mandate and direction to the NBBC Executive for the coming year. This is done through Resolutions from the floor. These Resolutions are almost always passed by consensus, and must be reported on at the next Convention. In recent years, the typical Convention has been attended members and by representatives of between 50 and 60 First Nations and First Nation organizations. Depending upon location, attendance has been in the 150 to 300+ range.

Convention Resolutions are viewed as the prime basis of support for the Executive to move forward on strategic initiatives. For example, at the 2004 Convention RESOLUTION No. 2004-004 was passed by consensus: Therefore be it resolved that; Coastal First Nations support the development and implementation of the NBBC Working Skills Institute, and the need to develop a range of mutually beneficial partnerships with First Nations and First Nations Organizations, Governments, the Private Sector and Academic Institutions.


Five years of NBBC consultation with its members and BC First Nations has identified a number of serious constraints to economic development that are not being adequately addressed. With this in mind, a number of coastal communities have asked the NBBC to play a support, coordination, communication and facilitation role to help address the problem areas.

First Nations recognize that addressing these issues and rebuilding a viable coastal economy cannot be done in isolation of other interests. Governments, corporations, the academic community and non-government organizations recognize that rebuilding a viable coastal economy cannot be done in isolation from First Nations. It therefore follows that any strategy to revitalize coastal communities must be built upon the negotiation of mutually beneficial partnerships.

With this self-evident truth in mind, the NBBC has devoted considerable effort in developing formal partnerships and working relationships with a wide range on interested parties. One basic objective has been to negotiate and formalize these relationships through a Letter of Understanding (LOU) between the NBBC and the Executives of the other parties. Figure 1. provides a brief report on the status of these negotiations.

Based upon these LOU’s, the NBBC is facilitating bringing the right combination of organizations together to deal with strategic initiatives and issues. Take ocean ranching for example. The NBBC has recently completed a “Pre-Feasibility ‘Business Case‘ Assessment of A British Columbia Coastal Zone Ocean Ranching Strategy’. A number of parties that have a signed LOU with the NBBC participated in the study, including the: Native Fishing Association, Aboriginal Fishing Vessel Owners Association, and Northern Native Fishing Corporation; Fish Processing Industry; United Fishermen’s and Allied Workers Union; and Sport Fishing Institute of B.C. Figure 2. provides several brief examples of some of the NBBC partnership based initiatives.


There is strong support for the NBBC to play an ‘advocacy’ role through support, coordination, communication and facilitation. It is understood and appreciated by First Nations and First Nation organizations that the NBBC respects the fact that decision-making must remain at the community level.

The NBBC is focused on helping to address a range of ‘big picture’ aboriginal initiatives and concerns that cannot be effectively dealt with at the community or Tribal Council levels. These include, for example, taxation, ocean ranching, Golden Mussel aquaculture, a natural resource focused Working Skills Institute, and the establishment of a National Aboriginal Literacy Foundation.

The basic NBBC operational principle is that progress is made through mutually beneficial partnerships. The NBBC does not ‘own’ these initiatives, but wants to play a strategic role in helping to make them real.




BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commission  S A fisheries based partnership between the two premier BC First Nation fisheries organizations
Native Fishing Association, Aboriginal Fishing Vessel Owners Association, and Northern Native Fishing Corporation S A partnership between the premier BC First Nation commercial fisheries organizations to optimize employment, prices, profits and other benefits from and participation in all BC commercial fisheries.
Coastal Community Network S A natural resource based partnership between the two premier BC Coastal Community organizations
Forestry Continuing Studies Network 


A partnership to provide First Nation community based natural resource training and education
Sport Fishing Institute of BC  S A partnership to increase First Nation employment in the recreational fish and ecotourism business sectors
UBC Faculty of Law   A A partnership to provide First Nation community based legal advice on natural resource issues
United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union  S A fisheries and marine resource based partnership toward a viable BC commercial fishery and benefit sharing
BC Fish Processing Industry  S A partnership toward the security of First Nation employment in the industry
Aboriginal Literacy Foundation S The establishment of a National Aboriginal Literacy Enhancement Foundation
First Nations Summit  A A partnership to facilitate a First Nation Coastal zone economic development strategy
Aquaculture Industry  P A partnership toward a First Nation coastal zone aquaculture strategy
Professional Fish Harvesters Assn.  P A partnership toward a First Nation professional fish harvesters certification initiative
BC Aboriginal Tourism Association  A A partnership to increase First Nation employment and benefits from the BC tourism industry
Turning Point Initiative   P The basis to negotiate a formal protocol between the NBBC and Turning Point in the natural resource area
Saskatchewan First Nation Insurance Services  S A partnership to increase First Nation security through improved pensions and insurance in the natural resource area
World Wildlife Fund   P A partnership toward the stewardship on the BC coastal zone 
Federal Partnerships   NA Partnerships with federal agencies to set the stage for the Phase II NBBC coastal zone initiative.  Partnership building is underway with INAC, DFO, HRDC, WD and Agriculture Canada
Provincial Partnerships   NA Partnerships with federal agencies to set the stage for the Phase II NBBC coastal zone initiative.  Partnership building is underway with EM&R, MAFF and MSRM







A First Nation Coastal Zone Plan


 A key focus of the Phase I Partnership Project negotiations was to facilitate, coordinate and support the implementation of a ‘all inclusive’ First Nation natural resource based coastal zone strategic plan.  Considerable progress was made, and specific elements of the plan will be pursued with partners in Phase II 
      A Native Plan for the Future   As a key initial step in developing a partnership negotiation framework for the Phase I Partnership Project, the NBBC prepared a strategic Discussion Paper:  ‘A Native Plan for the Future – The Native Brotherhood of B.C. First Nation Coastal Zone Management and Development Plan.’  This plan will be a key Phase II building block 
 Fisheries and Marine Resource Opportunities Identification   A NBBC tour and previous consultations clearly indicated that fisheries and marine resources must play a key role in any First Nation coastal community plan for the future.  As a first step, the NBBC drafted a Discussion Paper:  ‘A Preliminary Review and Assessment of First Nation Fisheries and Marine Resource Economic Development Opportunities in the British Columbia Coastal Zone.’  Specific elements of the plan will be pursued with partners in Phase II  

The Commercial Fishery


 The tour and previous consultation clearly indicated that commercial fisheries must continue to be a major element of any economic development strategy for coastal First Nations.  NBBC is involved with DFO and many other partners like UFAWU and the fishing companies to ensure a continued viable commercial fishing sector for the 21st century. 
 Ocean Ranching   The 2002 Convention mandated the NBBC to facilitate the review and assessment of ocean ranching as a potential economic generator for coastal community development, and as a potential alternative to fish farms in coastal British Columbia waters.  An NBBC facilitated Conference resulted in a ‘Report on the Native Brotherhood of B.C. Facilitated Ocean Ranching Mini-Conference – An Unrealized Opportunity for British Columbia’s Coastal Community Development.’  Ocean ranching will be pursued as a Phase II high priority.