SḰŦÁMEN QENÁȽ,ENEȻ SĆȺ - “Taking Care of Sidney Island”

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Sidney Island is a special place—and it needs our help. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is one of several project partners who are working together to restore the globally-unique forest ecosystem on SḰŦÁMEN (Sidney Island). The collaborative initiative includes the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, Tsawout First Nation, Pauquachin First Nation, Islands Trust Conservancy, Sallas Forest Strata, the Province of BC, and Parks Canada, with support from Coastal Conservation. Together, partners are working to reduce deer impacts, manage invasive plants, and repopulate native and culturally-significant understory plants across the island.

Click to hear the pronunciation of SḰŦÁMEN QENÁȽ,ENEȻ SĆȺ in the W̱SÁNEĆ language of SENĆOŦEN.

What’s the issue?

The Coastal Douglas-fir forest is a globally-unique and highly-threatened ecosystem, with only a fraction of its original range remaining. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is working to restore and protect this special ecosystem, which makes up a majority of its land base, by addressing one of the primary threats: invasive European fallow deer. 

Introduced to SḰŦÁMEN (Sidney Island) in the mid-1900s, fallow deer populations have since grown and have stripped the forest understory of native tree seedlings and shrubs, creating an ideal environment for invasive grasses and shrubs like English hawthorn to take over. The result is an ecosystem that is missing many of its native and culturally-significant understory plants, lacking in habitat for songbirds and other wildlife, and highly susceptible to climate change.  

An image of the forest understory which been stripped down to bare soil
In many sections, the forest understory has been stripped down to bare soil, leaving no habitat or foraging ground for songbirds and other wildlife.

What's our approach?

Parks Canada has been working collaboratively with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, Tsawout First Nation, Pauquachin First Nation, Sidney Island residents, Islands Trust Conservancy, and the Province of BC, and Coastal Conservation, to plan for the permanent removal of fallow deer—and subsequent forest restoration—on SḰŦÁMEN (Sidney Island).

SḰŦÁMEN is within the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples, who have been stewards of the lands and waters in and around Gulf Islands National Park Reserve for thousands of years. With SḰŦÁMEN QENÁȽ,ENEȻ SĆȺ, which means, “Taking Care of Sidney Island Project,” Parks Canada is working closely with Indigenous communities in a way that aligns with W̱SÁNEĆ values and teachings.

Project partners have been communicating with local communities, stakeholders, and the broader Canadian public to ensure that the public’s concerns and values are considered in the planning and implementation process.

Parks Canada is also working with First Nations to increase Indigenous deer harvesting on SḰŦÁMEN and elsewhere in the park reserve. In addition to helping to reduce the fallow deer population, Indigenous hunting plays an important role in the ongoing management of native black-tailed deer in this region.

What's been accomplished?

  • 2018: Parks Canada began to work with representatives from W̱SÁNEĆ and Cowichan Nations to facilitate hunter training and hunting mentorship programs. 
  • 2018: Parks Canada, Local First Nations, Sidney Island residents, the Province of BC, and Islands Trust Conservancy formed a steering committee to guide a collaborative restoration initiative specific to Sidney Island, known as the "Sidney Island Ecological Restoration Project (SIERP)", and later, SḰŦÁMEN QENÁȽ,ENEȻ SĆȺ. The initial purpose of the group was to collaboratively develop a proposal for forest restoration on Sidney Island, including options for the removal of invasive fallow deer.
  • April 2020: Parks Canada, the Province of BC, Islands Trust, and the Sallas Forest Strata Corporation finalized a Memorandum of Understanding outlining their shared intentions to work towards forest health on Sidney Island. The WSÁNEĆ Leadership Council and Pauquachin First Nation wrote corresponding letters of support for the project.
  • Spring 2021: A SIERP Design Plan was produced and circulated for review within partnering communities and organizations. At that time, Parks Canada also engaged with the public through regional medias and by soliciting feedback on the proposed fallow deer removal through the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry.
  • Fall 2021: Project partners built and planted ten fenced exclosures across Sidney Island for the purpose of re-establishing native and culturally-significant plant species.
  • Winter 2021-22: Parks Canada trialed fencing and deterrent options on Sidney Island and confirmed the effectiveness of these tools. 
  • Spring 2022: Parks Canada tendered a contract to seek a contractor to develop an operational plan on how the deer eradication would be carried out. The same company will also be granted the contract to carry out the eradication, should it proceed.
  • Summer 2022: The final Design Plan was shared with project partners for consideration. Formal approval from each of the SIERP project partners is required prior to moving forward with eradication.
  • Winter 2022-23: Project partners formally approved the eradication proposal. 


What's next?

Spring 2023: Project partners are working together to finalize an operational plan and complete a detailed impact assessment for eradication.

Summer 2023: A draft report of the detailed impact assessment will be available upon request for public review. Information about how to request a copy of the report will be available on this page, as well as on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry.

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