Canada and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation sign Agreement on Environmental Stewardship in the Burrard Inlet

News release

August 5, 2021 — North Vancouver, BC — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Today, Chief Jennifer Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport and the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, signed the Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Agreement.

Through this Agreement, the parties have agreed to establish a joint Tsleil-Waututh – Crown Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Secretariat that will coordinate stewardship activities and scientific research and analysis in Burrard Inlet. The Secretariat provides a unique forum for Tsleil-Waututh and multiple federal departments to work together on environmental stewardship activities.

The Agreement includes a $20 million investment over ten years to maintain the Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Fund. The fund will be managed by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation's Treaty Lands and Resources Department to support their stewardship activities in Burrard Inlet and their participation in the Secretariat.


"This agreement supports the ongoing stewardship work that Tsleil-Waututh has been conducting since time out of mind, as part of the Nation's laws and obligations to steward the lands and waters of our territory for past, present and future generations. This funding will allow our Treaty, Lands, and Resources staff to plan work based on Tsleil-Waututh needs, priorities and timelines, rather than planning around precarious external funding for activities defined by others. This is one step towards restoring Tsleil-Waututh's rightful governance role in Burrard Inlet. Tsleil-Waututh Nation Treaty, Lands and Resources department works flat out to protect the inlet from relentless industrial development on the shoreline and from contaminants in outfalls and stormwater. This agreement and the work that will follow will support Tsleil-Waututh's efforts to restore the health of Burrard Inlet, to work together with others in the Burrard Inlet community, and to strengthen and maintain our communities' connections to the water and life of the territory."

Chief Jennifer Thomas
Tsleil-Waututh Nation

"For decades, the Treaty, Lands and Resources department have been undertaking important scientific and environmental restoration work, but have been hindered by piecemeal, short-term funding opportunities focused on priorities set by others. This long-term, secure funding will allow our department to plan comprehensive, multi-year work based on Tsleil-Waututh priorities and perspectives. This includes monitoring and restoring water quality, enhancing fish and shellfish habitat, supporting community access to their ancestral waters, and in turn bringing back the ecosystems of Burrard Inlet. The secretariat will grow working relationships with all levels of Canadian government and other entities working on the Inlet. Increased coordination between related science and stewardship programs will improve the quality of work being done, helping to work towards the shared goal of restoring the health of Burrard Inlet. We have already seen gains from the work we do, including a return of herring and orcas to Burrard Inlet after decades long absence. This agreement will allow us to build upon these successes with the ability to plan long-term and collaboratively. We're excited for what is now possible."

Gabriel George
Director, Treaty Lands and Resources

"With the signing of this Agreement the Government of Canada has taken an important step on our path to reconciliation and rebuilding the relationship with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. This negotiated agreement will support the Tsleil-Waututh efforts to maintain their sacred knowledge to restore the environment on traditional territory. Supporting stewardship activities that will protect, conserve and enhance the ecosystem of Burrard Inlet benefits all Canadians."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"Today's signing of the Reconciliation Agreement marks an important step towards strengthening our partnership with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and promoting meaningful collaboration on stewardship activities in the Burrard Inlet. We look forward to working with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation on this important initiative that contributes to the protection of Canada's coasts and waterways for generations to come."

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

"This Agreement provides a concrete and meaningful path forward in reconciliation for Canada and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Through this partnership, we will continue to work together to address the long-term health of the Burrard Inlet through collaborative science and stewardship."

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"The Government of Canada recognizes the essential role of First Nations as stewards of common natural heritage. First Nations make unique and invaluable contributions to the understanding of ecosystems and of the environmental challenges we are facing as a country. Tsleil-Waututh Nation is an important partner in monitoring, protecting, and restoring the health of the environment. This agreement is an important step towards reconciliation and is a testament to the work of all parties to find common ground to better protect lands and waters for future generations."

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts

  • On September 4, 2017 Canada and Tsleil-Waututh Nation signed a Letter of Understanding committing to renew and strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship. A key priority for discussion was environmental assessment and stewardship.

  • Under the Agreement stewardship activities will include scientific research and analysis, restoration, planning and other science-based activities.

  • The federal departments of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, and Environment and Climate Change Canada share responsibility for implementing this Agreement with Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Tsleil-Waututh Nation Communications
Vanessa Gonzalez, Communications Coordinator

Ani Dergalstanian
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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