The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) is the main instrument of wildlife, fish, and forest management in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). The Board acts in the public interest, representing all the parties to the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (GCLCA) – the Gwich’in, the people of the Northwest Territories, and all Canadians.
The GRRB will consult on a variety of topics, including limitation of harvest, setting Gwich’in Needs Levels, approval of management plans, advice to government, making decisions on commercial harvesting, setting research priorities in the GSA, and more.
The GRRB is an exemplary model of renewable resources co-management. Working with its partners, the Board plays a leadership role in ensuring that the fish, forests, and wildlife of the Gwich’in Settlement Area remain healthy and sustainable.
Members of the 2017 Strategic Planning Workshop recommended that the GRRB, with its mandate, its community and its land at its core, adhere to the following values:
- Respecting the land and the Gwich’in people
- Communicating with communities respectfully, clearly and continually
- Encouraging teamwork throughout our activities
- Respecting and embracing traditional and scientific knowledge
- Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (GCLCA) – The powers and responsibilities of the Board are detailed in Chapters 12 & 13, Vol.1
- Strategic Plan (2018-2023)
- Priority Research and Management Needs Workshop Report (2017)
- Strategic Plan (2013-2018)
- Strategic Plan Workshop Report (2013-2018)
- Strategic Plan (2008-2013)
- Consultation Rules and Procedures (2010)
- Public Hearing Rules
- Safety Policy
- Operating Procedures Manual – internal document; contact the office for information
- Annual Work Plan – internal document; contact the office for information
The GRRB is a co-management board that acts in the public interest to manage renewable resources in the Gwich’in Settlement Area. Although Board members are nominated by the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) and various government departments, all members act in the public interest, independent of their nominating organization or department. Having a mix of Gwich’in participants and government appointments provides the diversity and balance needed to allow the Board to make informed decisions. The Chairperson of the Board must reside within the GSA and all Board procedures and direction are developed in accordance with an Operating Procedures Manual.
Securing adequate funding for research, support staff and research and management programs is a high priority for the Board. Although the GRRB receives funds from several sources each year, the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement implementation dollars from the Federal Government are the main funding source. Having independent funding and expenditure programs allows the Board to be financially efficient and effective.
Each year, the Board has an independent auditor prepare audited financial statements. These statements are submitted to the federal government each year and are available for review at the GRRB Office.
Helping Gwich'in Communities Manage Their Resources
The GRRB recognizes the importance of building capacity among community members to better manage their resources. Community-based management depends on informed community members to make good decisions when managing their resources. To help build capacity at the community level, the Board has sponsored and organized several workshops and programs and collaborates with RRCs on research projects and management plans.
Gwich’in Renewable Resources Councils: In each Gwich’in community in the GSA, there is a Renewable Resources Council (RRC) whose main role is to encourage and promote local involvement in conservation, harvesting studies, research and wildlife management in the local community. Specific powers and responsibilities of the RRCs are set out in the GCLCA. Established by the designated Gwich’in organization in the community, each RRC is made up of up to seven councillors who are residents of the local community. The RRCs are the Ehdiitat RRC (Aklavik); Nihtat RRC (Inuvik), Tetlit RRC (Fort McPherson) and Gwichya Gwich’in RRC (Tsiigehtchic). The Board consults regularly with these councils on matters within the Board’s jurisdiction, bringing community perspectives and advice forward to assist with Board decision making. Each of the RRCs have a single staff member, their RRC Coordinator, who lives in the community and who is the main point of contact between the GRRB and their RRC and between their RRC and other organizations, such as Band Office staff in their community, Gwich’in Tribal Council, government departments and outside researchers, for example. The four Renewable Resources Councils in the GSA meet regularly to discuss common resource management issues as there are many shared resources, holding an annual winter meeting in January each year with the location rotating annually among each of the four communities.
Community-Based Research Projects: With the assistance of their RRC coordinators, RRCs in each community are encouraged to identify renewable resource research projects, prepare project proposals, conduct the research and complete project reports. GRRB and agency staff assist the RRCs to plan and conduct projects so that community members learn field research skills. Community research projects have been conducted in all four Gwich’in communities.
Community Field Assistants and Monitors: The RRCs for each community have been (and/or are) involved in most research projects in the GSA. Field assistants from the communities are hired by the RRCs to assist with research projects. Field assistants and monitors learn data collection skills and assist with the field portion of research projects. Over the past 5 years the Board and agencies have hired over 50 community assistants to help with wildlife, forestry and fisheries projects.
RRCs and Community Member Workshops: To help build community capacity for renewable resource management the Board has organized several workshops for RRC and community members at the request of the RRC coordinators. The workshops have brought together community members, GRRB staff and government department staff to discuss community and resource management concerns. Past workshops have addressed the following topics:
- Fur and trapping issues
- Guiding and outfitting concerns
- Eco-forestry principles
- Grizzly bear management
- Forest management
- Youth and Elders’ concerns
- Bluenose caribou
- Dempster Highway caribou hunting
Community Interviewers: The Gwich’in Environmental Knowledge Project, Harvest Study and Forest Use Study have all relied on community interviewers to conduct interviews with Elders and community members. These programs have also trained community members in research and interviewing and research techniques. As well, each interviewer has increased his/her knowledge of renewable resource management in the GSA.