Indigenous Watersheds Initiative

Supporting Indigenous-Led Projects and Leadership

Watersheds are lifegiving for all beings – and are essential to Indigenous cultures, livelihoods, and overall health and well-being. Across Canada, Indigenous communities have stewarded these territories since time immemorial and have clear visions for watershed stewardship and security. They are leading important initiatives that will help ensure the resiliency and security of our watersheds. 

For more information, visit the Indigenous Watersheds Initiative (IWI) website.

Willow Creek Restoration
Photo Credit: Skeena Wild Conservation Trust. The field crew is conducting surveys as part of the Riparian Restoration Work on Willow Creek. This work was supported through provincial funding under the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.
Training Youth at Clayoquot
Photo Credit: Lora Tryon. Redd Fish is supporting Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations’ initiative to restore critical salmon populations in the Clayoquot Sound by reconstructing rearing habitat. This project is funded through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.
The Lower Kootenay Band crew at the Yaqan Nukiy Wetland Project site
Photo Credit: Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen. As part of the Yaqan Nukiy Wetland Project, the Lower Kootenay Band member crew learned wetland restoration techniques from a wetland expert. This project is funded through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.
Indigenous Watersheds Initiative Logo by Timothy FosterIndigenous Watersheds Initiative Logo by Timothy Foster


As part of Budget 2022, the Province of BC has invested $30 million for partnerships that empower local communities to secure a sustainable future for their watersheds and the communities that depend on them. Watersheds BC and MakeWay are partnering under the Indigenous Watersheds Initiative to steward $15 million of this funding specifically to support Indigenous-led initiatives that are advancing watershed health.

For more information, visit the Indigenous Watersheds Initiative (IWI) website.

The Provincial commitment builds on a previous $27 million dollar investment in the Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI) led by the Real Estate Foundation of BC in partnership with Watersheds BC. We are excited to build on this momentum by stewarding this new investment through the Indigenous Watersheds Initiative into the critical work being led by Indigenous communities across the region. 

The Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI) supported 61 projects and employed over 750 people across BC. HWI helped communities adapt to climate change, protect drinking water, restore critical habitat, and advance implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Through HWI, the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Circle (ILAC) and Indigenous-led projects informed a series of principles and criteria to guide how watershed funding in BC can be supported in a good way. The Indigenous Watersheds Initiative will build on the learnings of the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, particularly the recommendations, advice, wisdom, and principles from the ILAC. 

IWI is supporting communities working to advance their visions of watershed health and security. From restoring rivers and streams and protecting salmon habitat, to fostering future generations of watershed stewards, this work will help pave the way towards a model of watershed security that is rooted in long-term resilience, local values, and Indigenous rights and title.

IWI will support Indigenous-led initiatives to advance outcomes such as:

  • Stewarding watershed health through, traditional practices, monitoring, and/or guardian programs;
  • Securing safe and clean drinking water for all;
  • Sustaining local and traditional food sources;
  • Connecting communities to their watersheds;
  • Protecting and mitigating against climate change; and,
  • Advancing Indigenous laws and knowledge.

Grants provided through IWI will support a range of Indigenous-led and co-led projects. We recognize that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and that local priorities may look different from community to community. Each community is therefore best positioned to determine their own priorities.

The funding will be deployed in two stages over a 3-year period and is being designed in partnership with Indigenous leaders and community members.

For more information please visit or email [email protected].

​Program Partners

MakeWay is a national charity and public foundation with a goal to enable nature and communities to thrive together. They do this by building partnerships, providing solutions, grants, and services for the charitable sector across the country.  

MakeWay Foundation is partnering with Watersheds BC to support grant administration, regional collaboration, learning and storytelling. As a grant maker, they have demonstrated lasting commitments supporting Indigenous-led stewardship, watershed health, governance and community-led change. The unique MakeWay shared platform model is also the operational home for Watersheds BC.


Watersheds BC Partnership with the MakeWay Charitable Foundation: Indigenous Watersheds Initiative

Watersheds BC Partnership with the Real Estate Foundation of BC: Healthy Watersheds Initiative

Indigenous Watersheds Initiative website

Funding Announcements

April 2022 Funding Announcement with Premier Hogan, Chief Lydia Hwitsum, Minister Josie Osborne, and Zita Botelho

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.



Zita Botelho, Director, Watersheds BC

Bridgitte Taylor, BC Team Lead, MakeWay


General questions: [email protected]