Storyteller’s Corner: Kanaka Bar

July 1, 2020

Welcome to Kanaka Bar,

Kanaka Bar is a community nestled in the mountains alongside the Fraser River, on Nlaka’pamux ancestral lands, near what is now known as Lytton, BC. This small community with great heart is driven by it’s recognized excellence in strategically planning and implementing models of governance, policy, self-sustainability, and climate-focused initiatives. The work done here is a true reflection of the strength of community unity and reclamation.

Pre-colonially this community lived solely on the prosperity of their lands and waterways, with salmon being their staple food. The location of Kanaka Bar is very unique in that it sits within the Interior Douglas-Fir Biogioclimatic Zone where it ranges from being very hot and dry, to very wet. This is because Kanaka sits right on the boundary where the eco-type transitions from the interior to the coastal eco-type. So the community, in knowing their unique climate has undertaken all of the groundwork to understand each and every part of their lands. They put this knowledge to work in creating a sustainable community based on their climate, and the climate change happening right now.

Kanaka Bar has utilized part of their BCFN Gaming Revenue to support their Winter Plan outcomes. Check out the video below to see how they community is utilizing a portion of the funds for fuel management within their own territory. 

When you first enter Kanaka the first thing to note is that it’s a bustling community, you instantly see everyone working together towards their common goals. These goals were created collectively under a true democratic governance structure. Kanaka Bar has spent over 30 years creating a structure that upholds the integrity of their traditional communal values yet integrates contemporary policies. The community is as strong as the partners they engage in the planning and development of their community. In 2014 Kanaka created it’s first Land Use Plan (LUP). That plan set the path for growth towards their ideal vision of returning to being a self-sufficient, sustainable, and vibrant community. In the LUP, the criteria that was outlined was: what do we have? where do we need to go? how are we getting their, and what are our challenges?

Following the development of the Land Use Plan, the Community Economic Development Plan was developed in 2016 and that was utilized to determine Kanaka’s self-sufficiency goals. These goals and timeline are laid out below. This is an excellent example of what a community can do with the right planning, the right partnerships, and community spirit.

Community Economic Development Plan

Organizational Structure

Organization Chart

Kanaka Bar utilizes a very unique Organization Chart and structure that allows for separation of business from politics, decision-making from implementation and social/cultural activities from economic development activities. 

Additionally, it creates clear lines of communication and a hierarchy within the organization of Kanaka Bar where at the top the community members who elect Council also have the right and ability to hold them accountable every third Thursday. 

The Council, in turn, hires a CEO to look after social and cultural programs/services, and appoints directors to look after the affairs of the economic development arm. 

Directors are responsible for hiring their own CEO to manage the various economic development initiatives.  Both CEOs are responsible to plan for their respective work areas, manage their staff, budgets and all other resources. 

Click here to see the full article published by BC First Nations Gaming Revenue Sharing Limted Parternship.