New funding from B.C. a strong step towards a sustainable legacy for watershed health

Site of HWI project site at Kus Kus Sum.Site of HWI project site at Kus Kus Sum. Large restored estuary - the goal of the project. PC Zita Botelho.


Today, the Province of BC announced it will provide $30 million for partnerships that empower local leaders to secure a sustainable future for their watersheds and the communities that depend on them. Of this funding, MakeWay Foundation and  Watersheds BC (a project on MakeWay’s shared platform) will steward $15 million specifically to support Indigenous-led projects for watershed health.

Watersheds are lifegiving for all living things – and are central to Indigenous rights, cultures, livelihoods, and overall health and well-being. Healthy watersheds provide clean drinking water, abundant wildlife, and thriving local economies. They support food security, inspire celebrations, and bring people together. Indigenous communities have upheld and stewarded these values since time immemorial, and continue to lead incredible initiatives to advance watershed security, benefitting us all.

The Province’s latest $30 million commitment builds on a previous $27 million dollar investment in the Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI)  led by Watersheds BC and the Real Estate Foundation of BC. HWI supported 61 projects and employed over 750 people across BC. We are excited to build on this momentum by stewarding further investments into the critical work being led by Indigenous communities across the region.

Investing in watersheds is a triple win. It helps protect communities from climate change, sustains critical habitats and food sources, creates good local jobs, and, if done with respect and reciprocity, strengthens relationships with First Nations and upholds Indigenous rights and title. Healthy watersheds support healthy communities.

Through HWI, the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Circle and Indigenous-led projects informed a series of Principles and Criteria for how watershed funding in BC should be guided in a good way.

“Watershed health is integral to the continued exercise of Indigenous rights, and Indigenous peoples are best suited to decide how to restore healthy watersheds. Dedicated funding for Indigenous watershed work is promising, but we continue to call on those non-governmental organizations who also received significant resources under the Province’s recent watershed funding announcement to share that wealth and partner with the Indigenous nations on whose territories they operate” said Tara Marsden/Naxginkw, Senior Indigenous Advisor for Healthy Watersheds Initiative, who also supported the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Circle.

Watersheds BC and MakeWay will work hard to administer this next phase of funding in ways that reflect the recommendations of ILAC, and in collaboration with Indigenous partners, to shape a thoughtful process for deploying funds.

We also congratulate those who have helped us collectively arrive at this place today. We particularly acknowledge the leadership of the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Healthy Watersheds Initiative partners.

Beyond today’s news, many communities are calling for a long-term source of sustainable funding through a Watershed Security Fund. Today’s historic investments are one step in the right direction.

“Investing in watersheds is vital to the continued health of our land, waters and communities”, said Zita Botelho, Director, Watersheds BC, “if today’s announcement signals intent and commitment, we are one step closer to the creation of a Watershed Security Fund, and a vision for watershed health rooted in resilience and sustainability for future generations.”

Watersheds BC Logo


Media contacts

Watersheds BC: Zita Botelho, Director, Watersheds BC
[email protected] | 604.616.5353

MakeWay: Alison Henning, Director, Communications |
[email protected] | 236.317.2778


Read the Province of BC press release here

Learn about MakeWay’s shared platform here