The Heiltsuk Map Atlas: a story of success

By David Carruthers and Bo Reid

The Heiltsuk Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department was developed by the Heiltsuk Treaty Office in 1995. It is a great example of how First Nation Peoples can build capacity within their communities. By developing local skills and utilizing local resources, the Heiltsuk Nation is directly investing in the health of the community for today and the future.

Bo Reid is the manager of the Heiltsuk GIS Department. Through three years of training, he has had the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to manage various research projects that directly benefit the Heiltsuk in many areas such as:

  • Linking information gaps between the different research departments, including fisheries, forestry and the cultural education centre;
  • Producing maps that support the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, Heiltsuk Hemas (hereditary chiefs) and research directors in analyzing datasets for decision-making;
  • Developing maps that are used as educational tools for community members and Heiltsuk youth;
  • Storing information and networking with other First Nations to better utilize information & refine skills.

The Heiltsuk First Nation recognizes the importance to protect and preserve their resources on all levels. Through various research initiatives and economic opportunities, the Heiltsuk, strive to find independence and self-sufficiency.

One project of particular interest has been the Heiltsuk Map Atlas, a series of 40 maps illustrating the physical, biological and cultural assets of the territory. It includes maps on tourism, wildlife values, culturally modified trees and legend sites. The atlas also brings together many government-prepared datasets, interpreting them from a Heiltsuk perspective and updating them where necessary with local knowledge.
"We felt that it was important to become familiar with government data and to be able to interpret and amend it according to our OWN needs"

"We felt that it was important to become familiar with government data and to be able to interpret and amend it according to our OWN needs", says Bo Reid. "The atlas gives us an opportunity to assess the information we have to date, and gives us a better understanding of some of the gaps that exist in this body of knowledge. We can then go to the community and work on filling these gaps".

Reid recognizes the value in bringing a Heiltsuk voice to the atlas. He has been frustrated with many outside consultants and researchers trying to interpret Heiltsuk values. "Doing the work at home allows us to interpret the information from a Heiltsuk perspective, as oppose to having someone come into our community and try to think from a Heiltsuk perspective, which doesn't work".

"Doing the work at home allows us to interpret the information from a Heiltsuk perspective"

The atlas is atool that the Heiltsuk can use at all levels, whether it be foreducation, research initiatives or for simply cataloging information forfuture generations. Showcased here on the Aboriginal Mapping Network isone map from the forest series of the atlas.

Click on map to see larger version

In the four corners of the map, you will see the four crests of the Heiltsuk Nation: the Eagle, the Raven, the Killer Whale, and the Wolf. Designed by local artist Walden Marty Windsor, these crests represent the hereditary structure of the Nation. Presented on the maps, these crests help to ground the work in the community and to show respect to the Chiefs.

From an information management perspective, this project has helped to organize, store and archive information in an efficient way. And it has also been a learning process.

"One of the most important things we've learned is the power of networking with other First Nations and organizations who have already worked on similar projects. This helps to avoid duplication and build important relationships in this field", says Reid. "You also have to have a vision of how the final product will be used. This helps you prepare the data according to the end needs. For example, if it's to be used an as educational tool, it has to incorporate data that is accessible to youth."

Click on maps to see larger version

The atlas project is a success, and its success is in no small way attributed to the dedication to the project by Bo Reid and the Heiltsuk leadership.

"I think commitment is a big factor in the success of projects. Despite the closure of our treaty office, our community has recognized the value of our mapping office and has kept the mapping office alive. This is one small step in how we are rebuilding our Nation" says Bo Reid.


Building Native Nations: Environment, Natural Resources, and Governance

A conference review by Kira Gerwing


FSC International Standards


Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria.

1.1 Forest management shall respect all national and local laws and administrative requirements.
1.2 All applicable and legally prescribed fees, royalties, taxes and other charges shall be paid.
1.3 In signatory countries, the provisions of all binding international agreements such as CITES, ILO Conventions, ITTA, and Convention on Biological Diversity, shall be respected.
1.4 Conflicts between laws, regulations and the FSC Principles and Criteria shall be evaluated for the purposes of certification, on a case by case basis, by the certifiers and the involved or affected parties
1.5 Forest management areas should be protected from illegal harvesting, settlement and other unauthorized activities.
1.6 Forest managers shall demonstrate a long-term commitment to adhere to the FSC Principles and Criteria.

Long-term tenure and use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented and legally established.

2.1 Clear long-term tenure and forest use rights to the land (e.g. land title, customary rights, or lease agreements) shall be demonstrated.
2.2 Local communities with legal or customary tenure or use rights shall maintain control, to the extent necessary to protect their rights or resources, over forest operations unless they delegate control with free and informed consent to other agencies.
2.3 Appropriate mechanisms shall be employed to resolve disputes over tenure claims and use rights. The circumstances and status of any outstanding disputes will be explicitly considered in the certification evaluation. Disputes of substantial magnitude involving a significant number of interests will normally disqualify an operation from being certified.

The legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories and resources shall be recognized and respected.

3.1 Indigenous peoples shall control forest management on their lands and territories unless they delegate control with free and informed consent to other agencies.
3.2 Forest management shall not threaten or diminish, either directly or indirectly, the resources or tenure rights of indigenous peoples.
3.3 Sites of special cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance to indigenous peoples shall be clearly identified in cooperation with such peoples, and protected by forest managers.
3.4 Indigenous peoples shall be compensated for the application of their traditional knowledge regarding the use of forest species or management systems in forest operations. This compensation shall be formally agreed upon with their free and informed consent before forest operations commence.

Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities.

4.1 The communities within, or adjacent to, the forest management area should be given opportunities for employment, training, and other services.
4.2 Forest management should meet or exceed all applicable laws and/or regulations covering health and safety of employees and their families.
4.3 The rights of workers to organize and voluntarily negotiate with their employers shall be guaranteed as outlined in Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
4.4 Management planning and operations shall incorporate the results of evaluations of social impact. Consultations shall be maintained with people and groups directly affected by management operations.
4.5 Appropriate mechanisms shall be employed for resolving grievances and for providing fair compensation in the case of loss or damage affecting the legal or customary rights, property, resources, or livelihoods of local peoples. Measures shall be taken to avoid such loss or damage.

Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest's multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits.

5.1 Forest management should strive toward economic viability, while taking into account the full environmental, social, and operational costs of production, and ensuring the investments necessary to maintain the ecological productivity of the forest.
5.2 Forest management and marketing operations should encourage the optimal use and local processing of the forest's diversity of products.
5.3 Forest management should minimize waste associated with harvesting and on-site processing operations and avoid damage to other forest resources.
5.4 Forest management should strive to strengthen and diversify the local economy, avoiding dependence on a single forest product.
5.5 Forest management operations shall recognize, maintain, and, where appropriate, enhance the value of forest services and resources such as watersheds and fisheries.
5.6 The rate of harvest of forest products shall not exceed levels which can be permanently sustained.

Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest

6.1 Assessment of environmental impacts shall be completed - appropriate to the scale, intensity of forest management and the uniqueness of the affected resources - and adequately integrated into management systems. Assessments shall include landscape level considerations as well as the impacts of on-site processing facilities. Environmental impacts shall be assessed prior to commencement of site-disturbing operations.
6.2 Safeguards shall exist which protect rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitats (e.g. nesting and feeding areas). Conservation zones and protection areas shall be established, appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management and the uniqueness of the affected resources. Inappropriate hunting, fishing, trapping and collecting shall be controlled.
6.3 Ecological functions and values shall be maintained intact, enhanced, or restored, including:
a) Forest regeneration and succession.
b) Genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity.
c) Natural cycles that affect the productivity of the forest ecosystem.
6.4 Representative samples of existing ecosystems within the landscape shall be protected in their natural state and recorded on maps, appropriate to the scale and intensity of operations and the uniqueness of the affected resources.
6.5 Written guidelines shall be prepared and implemented to: control erosion; minimize forest damage during harvesting, road construction, and all other mechanical disturbances; and protect water resources.
6.6 Management systems shall promote the development and adoption of environmentally friendly non-chemical methods of pest management and strive to avoid the use of chemical pesticides. World Health Organization Type 1A and 1B and chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides; pesticides that are persistent, toxic or whose derivatives remain biologically active and accumulate in the food chain beyond their intended use; as well as any pesticides banned by international agreement, shall be prohibited. If chemicals are used, proper equipment and training shall be provided to minimize health and environmental risks.
6.7 Chemicals, containers, liquid and solid non-organic wastes including fuel and oil shall be disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner at off-site locations.
6.8 Use of biological control agents shall be documented, minimized, monitored and strictly controlled in accordance with national laws and internationally accepted scientific protocols. Use of genetically modified organisms shall be prohibited.
6.9 The use of exotic species shall be carefully controlled and actively monitored to avoid adverse ecological impacts.
6.10 Forest conversion to plantations or non-forest land shall not occur, except in circumstances where conversion:
a) entails a very limited portion of the Forest Management Unit; and
b) does not occur on High Conservation Value forest areas; and
c) will enable clear, substantial, additional, secure, long term conservation benefits across the Forest Management Unit

A management plan - appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations - shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated.

7.1 The management plan and supporting documents shall provide:
a) Management objectives.
b) Description of the forest resources to be managed, environmental limitations, land use and ownership status, socio-economic conditions, and a profile of adjacent lands.
c) Description of silvicultural and/or other management system, based on the ecology of the forest in question and information gathered through resource inventories.
d) Rationale for rate of annual harvest and species selection.
e) Provisions for monitoring of forest growth and dynamics.
f) Environmental safeguards based on environmental assessments.
g) Plans for the identification and protection of rare, threatened and endangered species.
h) Maps describing the forest resource base including protected areas, planned management activities and land ownership.
i) Description and justification of harvesting techniques and equipment to be used.
7.2. The management plan shall be periodically revised to incorporate the results of monitoring or new scientific and technical information, as well as to respond to changing environmental, social and economic circumstances.
7.3. Forest workers shall receive adequate training and supervision to ensure proper implementation of the management plan.
7.4. While respecting the confidentiality of information, forest managers shall make publicly available a summary of the primary elements of the management plan, including those listed in Criterion 7.1.

Monitoring shall be conducted -- appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management -- to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts.

8.1 The frequency and intensity of monitoring should be determined by the scale and intensity of forest management operations as well as the relative complexity and fragility of the affected environment. Monitoring procedures should be consistent and replicable over time to allow comparison of results and assessment of change.
8.2 Forest management should include the research and data collection needed to monitor, at a minimum, the following indicators:
a) Yield of all forest products harvested.
b) Growth rates, regeneration and condition of the forest.
c) Composition and observed changes in the flora and fauna.
d) Environmental and social impacts of harvesting and other operations.
e) Costs, productivity, and efficiency of forest management.
8.3 Documentation shall be provided by the forest manager to enable monitoring and certifying organizations to trace each forest product from its origin, a process known as the "chain of custody."
8.4 The results of monitoring shall be incorporated into the implementation and revision of the management plan.

Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach.

DEFINITION (FSC): High Conservation Value Forests (HCV) are those that possess one or more of the following attributes: a) forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant: · concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia); and/or · large landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance b) forest areas that are in or contain, rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems c) forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g. watershed protection, erosion control) d) forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health) and/or critical to local communities´ traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).

9.1 Assessment to determine the presence of the attributes consistent with High Conservation Value Forests will be completed, appropriate to scale and intensity of forest management.
9.2 The consultative portion of the certification process must place emphasis on the identified conservation attributes, and options for the maintenance thereof.
9.3 The management plan shall include and implement specific measures that ensure the maintenance and/or enhancement of the applicable conservation attributes consistent with the precautionary approach. These measures shall be specifically included in the publicly available management plan summary.
9.4 Annual monitoring shall be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the measures employed to maintain or enhance the applicable conservation attributes.

Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with Principles and Criteria 1 - 9, and Principle 10 and its Criteria. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world's needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.

PLANTATION DEFINITION (FSC) Plantations are defined as tree-dominated vegetated areas in which human intervention, through planting or intensive silvicultural treatments, has yielded conditions in which only a few of the characteristics of the indigenous natural forest ecosystem remain.

10.1 The management objectives of the plantation, including natural forest conservation and restoration objectives, shall be explicitly stated in the management plan, and clearly demonstrated in the implementation of the plan.
10.2 The design and layout of plantations should promote the protection, restoration and conservation of natural forests, and not increase pressures on natural forests. Wildlife corridors, streamside zones and a mosaic of stands of different ages and rotation periods, shall be used in the layout of the plantation, consistent with the scale of the operation. The scale and layout of plantation blocks shall be consistent with the patterns of forest stands found within the natural landscape.
10.3 Diversity in the composition of plantations is preferred, so as to enhance economic, ecological and social stability. Such diversity may include the size and spatial distribution of management units within the landscape, number and genetic composition of species, age classes and structures.
10.4 The selection of species for planting shall be based on their overall suitability for the site and their appropriateness to the management objectives. In order to enhance the conservation of biological diversity, native species are preferred over exotic species in the establishment of plantations and the restoration of degraded ecosystems. Exotic species, which shall be used only when their performance is greater than that of native species, shall be carefully monitored to detect unusual mortality, disease, or insect outbreaks and adverse ecological impacts.
10.5 A proportion of the overall forest management area, appropriate to the scale of the plantation and to be determined in regional standards, shall be managed so as to restore the site to a natural forest cover.
10.6 Measures shall be taken to maintain or improve soil structure, fertility, and biological activity. The techniques and rate of harvesting, road and trail construction and maintenance, and the choice of species shall not result in long term soil degradation or adverse impacts on water quality, quantity or substantial deviation from stream course drainage patterns.
10.7 Measures shall be taken to prevent and minimize outbreaks of pests, diseases, fire and invasive plant introductions. Integrated pest management shall form an essential part of the management plan, with primary reliance on prevention and biological control methods rather than chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Plantation management should make every effort to move away from chemical pesticides and fertilizers, including their use in nurseries. The use of chemicals is also covered in Criteria 6.6 and 6.7.
10.8 Appropriate to the scale and diversity of the operation, monitoring of plantations shall include regular assessment of potential on-site and off-site ecological and social impacts, (e.g. natural regeneration, effects on water resources and soil fertility, and impacts on local welfare and social well-being), in addition to those elements addressed in principles 8, 6 and 4. No species should be planted on a large scale until local trials and/or experience have shown that they are ecologically well-adapted to the site, are not invasive, and do not have significant negative ecological impacts on other ecosystems. Special attention will be paid to social issues of land acquisition for plantations, especially the protection of local rights of ownership, use or access.
10.9 Plantations established in areas converted from natural forests after November 1994 normally shall not qualify for certification. Certification may be allowed in circumstances where sufficient evidence is submitted to the certification body that the manager/owner is not responsible directly or indirectly for such conversion (see also Criterion 6.10).


A Survey of GIS in the Aboriginal Mapping Community

Summarised from A Survey of First Nations Geographic Information Systems Hardware and Software produced under Canada-BC Information Sharing Protocol, Federal Treaty Negotiation Office, and BC Treaty Negotiation Office

A survey of First Nations organisations has found that most organisations have GIS capabilities, or have mapping done by external agencies. ESRI software packages were found to be the most common software used. The survey also found that GIS is being used for a wide variety of tasks including resource management and mapping of Traditional Use Studies and Land Claims.

The survey, conducted by the Canada-BC Information Sharing Protocol, looked at the level of use and interest in GIS among First Nation organizations. A total of 109 First Nation organisations participated in the survey representing individual First Nations, Bands, Tribal Councils or other Affiliations. The objectives of the study were to determine the level of use and interest in GIS among First Nation organisations; facilitate information sharing between First Nations; allow First Nations to become strategic when developing a GIS information management system; allow First Nations to capitalize on each other's successes, knowledge and advice; and bring forth a common technical standard for storing land and resource information.

Of the organisations surveyed 44% currently use GIS while 36% are interested in acquiring GIS software some time in the future. Twenty-two organisations surveyed have no interest in developing GIS in the foreseeable future. Lack of funding, insufficient need (ie. GIS support is currently provided from outside), difficulty with implementing infrastructure, and trouble in finding adequate personnel are the predominant reasons for not implementing a GIS operation.


Nine of the twenty-two offices without GIS software had had GIS software in the past. Lack of funding, problems maintaining personnel, insufficient work, and consolidating GIS operations lead to the demise of GIS in these offices. Five of these offices are interested in resuming GIS operations while the others are not at all interested.

One of the biggest obstacles for those who currently have, or are interested in establishing, a GIS office is the cost. Both start-up costs and the cost of maintaining on-going operations present a challenge for users. Outside of the Lower Mainland, training is hard to obtain for most users and all users find that the length of time it takes to train workers in GIS is a costly investment. Further obstacles include the difficulty in obtaining usable data, finding and keeping the right personnel, and maintaining sufficient infrastructure within the organization to support GIS operators. In some cases, organisations find that they do not have adequate work to justify the expense of software and operation. Six organisations expressed difficulty in obtaining support for GIS from their community or Chiefs and Councils. Other obstacles include obtaining technical support for old software and hardware, maintaining confidentiality of sensitive information, maintaining data standards, and the logistics of getting equipment delivered to remote locations.

Most organizations were found to have either internal GIS capabilities or had mapping work done by external agencies. ESRI software packages were the most common type of GIS software used by the participants. The uses for this software range from resource management to mapping for Traditional Use Studies and Land Claims.

The majority of those using GIS are using the ESRI products ArcView and ArcInfo. Microstation, Pamap, and AutoCAD are used to a lesser extent. Most of those surveyed (75%) found that their current software adequately meets their needs. Others found that compatibility with other organisations, lack of analysis and modeling capabilities, inadequate ability to handle large data sets, and difficulty in obtaining technical support were problems with their software.

Most organisations were well equipped with peripheral equipment. Almost all have a desk-top printer, and most have a large-format plotter, and a digitizer. Many have or have access to GPS equipment. To back-up their datasets most organisations use CD writers. Less common methods of back-up include ZIP and JAZZ drives and tape back-up systems. Not all organisations back-up their data. Sixty-eight percent of respondents were satisfied with their hardware although most indicated they would like a faster computer.

The most common use of GIS among First Nations surveyed is Traditional Use Studies (TUS). This was followed by use for treaty processes including land selection models and resource management. Other uses include mapping of cultural and archaeological sites as well as education and communication.

Both current users and those without GIS who were interested in obtaining it expressed interest in using it primarily for resource management. Other potential applications included forestry, municipal uses, mapping of archaeological and cultural sites, education and communication, and data management.

Current users expressed interest in more analysis, 3-D modeling capabilities, and mapping to support treaty negotiations. Future endeavours with GIS included creating a consulting business to sell training and products.

The survey found that fourty-three percent of the organisations with internal GIS capabilities may use external consultants to help them during busy times or for work they do not have the internal capacity to undertake.

Insight and Advice These thoughts on implementing a GIS were shared by those surveyed and may be helpful to anyone who is considering starting-up a GIS office.

"Make sure that you thoroughly understand the data you are working with."

"Start small i.e. just get some GIS software that will make maps, then further along in the process get the true GIS software to start doing analysis."

"GIS should become integrated with other parts of the community (e.g. health agencies and local businesses)"

"GIS output is not just the maps, it also provides a source of information for other organisations in the community."

Infrastructure and Funding
"A sophisticated infrastructure is needed to support GIS operations."

"You need to build depth in the community to support a GIS installation. Make sure that there is enough support, and that the GIS installation is not just contingent on a few trained people."

"Start small and make sure that you have the resources to maintain operations."

"The biggest obstacle for First Nations in GIS is not a lack of work or not knowing where to go, but being able to obtain the continued support and funding needed to keep GIS running."

"Plan first and know what it is going to cost."

"Plan carefully to make sure the data you are gathering will do the job, that you are not just throwing money at the problems."

"Start with a long term, well documented plan for GIS implementation. This will help overcome the problems of staff turnover."

"Do a proper user needs analysis prior to purchase to make sure that it will really meet the needs of the community."

"Get someone with 5-10 years experience to do a user needs assessment. Do your homework first!"

"Develop a good knowledge of what GIS is before you start." "Be sure to shop around for hardware and software."

"Have a GIS technician help write the interview questions to make sure that candidates have a adequate technical knowledge."

"It is important to have a committed, generalist type person as the GIS department head. This person needs to have skills in project management, proposal writing, staff training, and have an understanding of the political situation the maps will be used in. They also need to be capable of seeing the department through fluctuations in funding and support."

"Find someone really interested in GIS who will stay with it. GIS isn't for everyone: it can be time consuming and boring."

"For GIS, you need to keep up with constant change and learning. A GIS person needs to be very familiar with software and hardware, and committed to keeping up with technology."

"Before you spend a lot of money to train employees, make sure that they area committed to staying around for the long haul."

"It is very important to get good training."

"You have to understand computer systems and databases before attempting GIS."

"Get training first so you don't have equipment sitting around for months while you try to find someone to run it."

"Get people trained first, but make sure you have somewhere for them to go."

"Get proper training for band members through either job shadowing or formal schooling."

"You need both introductory hands-on training and more advanced training. People can be scared to try after just a brief training course, and they don't know how to use the more advanced capabilities of the software."

"Get proper schooling before on-the-job training. Adequate schooling is necessary to be able to handle all the hardware and software problems you will encounter."

"Establish long term, on site, training and mentoring."

"Training/personnel solution: we use a 50/50 split between hiring community members and outside experts. This allows for mentor style teaching."

"Be aware of the learning curve of the software you are considering. Stick with the simpler packages unless you intend to get very intensely into GIS."

"Don't shy away from technical support fees. They are worth the money, saving you from down time and consultant fees."

Information Sharing
"Get the copyright on material you produce so you have ownership of your information."

"There is too much emphasis on confidentiality and proprietary data."

"There is insufficient sharing of information between bands which leads to duplication of effort. For example, the same area may be mapped three times by three different bands who have a common interest in it."

"Networking is important so that we avoid all stumbling over the same things."

"Instead of each First Nation setting up their own GIS facilities, First Nations should cooperate and combine resources. This is especially true for small Nations who may not have enough GIS work to justify the cost of the hardware and software."

"First Nations should establish a kind of 'swap meet' for GIS hardware and software, so that when one Nation upgrades their equipment, they can pass their old stuff onto a Nation that is just starting out."

Standards and Quality
"Establish GIS corporate data standard before you start (i.e. ask for all you data in a specific format and standard)."

"Develop common symbology and mapping standards to ease sharing of information and reduce duplicated efforts."

"Standardise database information to enable sharing of data."

"We need to be on the same mapping system as major licensees and forestry (NADD 83)."

"Be compatible with what the province uses." "Data is only useful if it has high quality."

"Need a high level of security to assure data quality and standards (i.e. make sure people aren't throwing junk in)"

"Make sure data is valid for statistics assessment and prescriptions." Encouragement "Don't be scared of GIS, it is fun after you get used to it."

"GIS is an important technology Aboriginal Organisations, and the benefits outweigh the costs."

"GIS will empower Aboriginal Organisations. GIS enables organisations to make well thought out, intelligent decisions."

"GIS is important for self governance as it provides timely access to timely and accurate information."

"GIS is a good way to establish resources, and to force others to recognize that you have lived in your territory a long time."

"GIS will play an important role in how resources are managed."

"GIS is useful once you get it up and running. It is especially good as a visual tool for presentations."

"GIS is a good tool for negotiations and to educate children within the community about water and land issues."

"GIS is a good initiative for land management, and a good tool for preparing for treaties."

"It is critical that First Nations get started in GIS as soon as possible, so that it is well established before the demands on the GIS become to overwhelming."

"It is the First Nations, not the governments who will be able to achieve a viable database of land information."

"Learn the technology, own the technology, and understand and use it to your advantage."

"GIS is not always the entire answer. You can waste lots of time playing and not getting results. You need solid information and capacity in order to get anything usable out."

"For small bands, it may not be worth keeping people trained and software and hardware updated. It is more cost effective to use contractors."

"GIS is great technology, but it is just a tool and shouldn't be relied on too heavily especially for predictive models."

"People tend to take GIS information too literally, never questioning the data. If you are producing maps, know your audience."

"Evaluate the expense versus the demand to make sure an investment in GIS would be worthwhile. GIS requires state of the art technology, so you have to keep upgrading which is expensive to maintain."

"GIS is not value neutral, and the GIS way of looking at the world is not always consistent with traditional views."

"You need to understand the error associated with your data and ground truth data before it is used for decision making."