What We Do

The Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative promotes community self-sufficiency and sustainable economic development on BC’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

Our communities are working together to build a strong, conservation-based economy that recognizes our Title and Rights, and protects our culture and ecosystems.

We support:

  • planning for marine and land resources in the Great Bear region
  • increased local control and management of forestry and fisheries
  • sustainable development through ecosystem-based management
  • capacity building in our communities
  • partnerships with government, industry, environmental groups and others


The Great Bear Initiative Society operates under the direction of a Board of Directors that approves an annual strategic plan for the organization. It has one representative from each of the nine member Nations.

The GBI Board of Directors meets at least three times a year to review progress and provide direction on activities. The Executive Committee meets regularly to review administrative issues and monitor project work.

The Vancouver office has a core staff of seven people who support the Board with:

  • strategic project planning support
  • communications
  • assistance in developing economic strategies
  • support for community capacity-building
  • financial management

Board of Directors:

Jason Alsop – President, Council of the Haida Nation

Arnold Clifton – Chief, Gitga’at 

Marilyn Slett – Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Tribal Council

Roxanne Robinson – Chief Councillor, Kitasoo Band Council

Harold Leighton – Chief Councillor, Metlakatla Governing Council 

Wally Webber – Chief Councillor, Nuxalk Nation

Donald (Duffy) Edgars Chief Councillor, Old Massett Village Council 

Billy YovanovichChief Councillor, Skidegate Band Council 

Danielle Shaw – Wuikinuxv Nation

Marilyn Slett
Marilyn Slett
Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Tribal Council
President, Coastal First Nations

Executive Committee:

Marilyn SlettPresident

Trevor RussVice-President

Bruce ReeceSecretary

Jessie HoustyTreasurer


Paul Kariya - Senior Policy Advisor


Gary Wilson - Director of Operations


Bessie Brown - Communications Coordinator


Johanna Helbig - Projects Coordinator


Crystal Dixon - Office Manager


David Oxley - Admin/IT Officer


Project Managers

Steve DiggonMarine Planning Coordinator