?Esdilagh First Nation Sturgeon River Law
In May 2020, the ?Esdilagh First Nation enacted a pivota law to safeguard the waters of the Fraser River (Sturgeon River/?Elhdaqox), known as the ?Elhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan, or Sturgeon River Law.
The Fraser River bisects the Esdilagh First Nation, which relies on the river’s waters and aquatic species for its culture, livelihood and governance. Dwindling stocks of native white sturgeon and sockeye salmon—both important traditional food sources—have been severely impacted by mining effluent and other pollutants, diversion of streams upriver, and natural disasters such as wildﬁres and landslides.
Thanks to funding from the New Relationship Trust and support from the Tŝilhqot’in National Government, the Sturgeon River law transcribes the Tŝilhqot’in dechen ts’edilhtan (literal translation “laying down the stick”), long-held laws passed down through oral teachings regarding the care of this vital waterway.
The law’s development allowed the Esdilagh First Nation community to determine cumulative impacts, engage community members in the management and stewardship of the waterways, and map out compliance processes and enforcement objectives. The Sturgeon River Law is an important ﬁrst step in protecting the region’s watershed and the life that depends on it, and will form part of a larger project to establish water laws across the Esdilagh First Nation’s territory.