The Rise of the Roundtable and the Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework

March 15, 2024

A letter from Grizzly Bear Foundation's Director of Indigenous-Led Conservation, Richard Sparrow.

Featured in Issue Nine of the Knowledge Keeper newsletter. Subscribe here.


Friends and Supporters,

It’s been five months since the Province of British Columbia’s public engagement process for their draft Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework and Commercial Bear Viewing Strategy came to a close. Since then, the Grizzly Bear Foundation has been busy advancing opportunities for the Indigenous Roundtable on Grizzly Bear Conservation and Bear Viewing Ecotourism (the Roundtable). 


Our meeting with Premier David Eby and Minister Nathan Cullen this past January was an important milestone speaking to the significance and promise of the Roundtable in supporting First Nations engagement on the Provincial Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework.


Pictured: Mike Willie (Hereditary Chief Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and Owner of Seawolf Adventures), Richard Sparrow (Director of Indigenous Led Conservation Grizzly Bear Foundation), Premier David Eby, Miles Richardson (O.C.), Douglas Neasloss (Chief Councillor Kitasoo/Xai'xais Nation), Nicholas Scapillati (Executive Director Grizzly Bear Foundation)


What's next? The Province is set to release a new draft of the Framework any day. This comes following a series of engagements, which began as a First Nations process, followed by a focused engagement with stakeholder organizations, including the Grizzly Bear Foundation, followed by a broader engagement with the public last summer (learn more about that here). 


The next step will be a final phase of engagement with First Nations, ensuring that diverse perspectives and Indigenous knowledge are woven into the fabric of the document. The Grizzly Bear Foundation is committed to supporting First Nations throughout this process. 





Indigenous Roundtable, Port Hardy, BC. The Grizzly Bear Foundation hosted the most recent Roundtable this past November in Port Hardy at the Kwa'lilas Hotel, owned and operated by the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations on the traditional land of the Kwakiutl First Nation. Delegates focused their discussions on First Nations engagement in the Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework and Commercial Bear Viewing Strategy.


The Roundtable provided a pivotal platform for collaboration, bringing together diverse perspectives and experiences with the shared goal of advancing grizzly bear conservation and promoting responsible bear-viewing ecotourism. Each delegate shared invaluable insight and contribution, enriching our discussions and guiding us toward innovative solutions for grizzly bear stewardship.


On day one, together with Kathy MacRae of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC and Brian Falconer of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Grizzly Bear Foundation Executive Director Nicholas Scapillati presented a review of the most recent draft of the Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework. Highlighting the issues and recommendations our three organizations provided the Province throughout the document's review process, the discussion focused on strategy and support for further First Nations engagement.


What does responsible bear viewing look like? Douglas Neasloss, Chief Councillor for the Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation, presented First Nations engagement in provincial policy and Kitasoo Xai'xais best practices for commercial bear viewing. This included a collaborative discussion on how Indigenous and non-Indigenous operators regulate bear viewing in First Nations territories.

The session delved into the critical intersection of conservation, Indigenous engagement, and the promotion of responsible bear-viewing practices, showcasing a harmonious blend of traditional knowledge and contemporary conservation strategies.



What does stewardship really mean? One of our key concerns with the draft Framework was a lack of a definition for the term stewardship. The Grizzly Bear Foundation recognizes the important role of First Nations in shaping the essence of stewardship through the stewardship framework process and, in turn, how it will be applied to wildlife conservation in British Columbia. 

The second day of the Roundtable kicked off with a discussion led by our Executive Director, Nicholas Scapillati, to explore the meaning of stewardship within the context of wildlife conservation. Together, we delved into the depths of colonial and Indigenous languages, cultural traditions, and modern conservation practices to understand the history and power of words in conservation. Delegates discussed the challenges of capturing an entire way of life and complex living system into the English language, which one delegate described as "ecologically illiterate."

This discussion was not only about bridging languages and cultural perspectives; it was about embracing them and recognizing the profound shared responsibility we hold to protect and nurture the natural world for future generations. It was a deeply personal endeavour guided by our shared reverence for the land and its inhabitants, and it set the stage for continued collaborative and transformative discussions to define what stewardship truly means. 



The final day culminated in an exciting discussion to put forward a Grizzly Bear Declaration. Indigenous leaders and participants from across the region actively contributed to formalizing a declaration supporting the conservation and protection of grizzly bears. This declaration symbolized a united commitment to safeguarding these iconic creatures for future generations. If your Nation would like to sign onto the declaration, please contact me at

The Roundtable stands as a testament to the power of collaboration. It blends traditional wisdom with contemporary strategies and unites diverse perspectives toward a shared vision of a thriving future for grizzly bears and the ecosystems they inhabit. We are honoured by all the delegates who attended. 


Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you enjoy this issue of The Knowledge Keeper. Feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with us. 



hay čxʷ q̓ə 

Richard Sparrow

Director of Indigenous-Led Conservation

Grizzly Bear Foundation


Join The Knowledge Keeper. Journey with us as we navigate you through the stories, research, and Indigenous Knowledge–Ways of Knowing–that guide Indigenous-led grizzly bear conservation.

Support Indigenous-Led ConservationThe Grizzly Bear Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to the welfare of the grizzly bear across North America. Guided by science and Indigenous knowledge, the Grizzly Bear Foundation works collaboratively to support the conservation of grizzly bears through research, public education, and advocacy. We recognize the invaluable role of Indigenous-led conservation and the core principles to the conservation of lands and waters that continue to support Indigenous people's cultural and economic practices.

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