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For Immediate Release


Nov. 5, 2005

Parks Canada

Ministry of Environment

Cowichan Tribes




DUNCAN – A plaque commemorating the Cowichan River’s designation to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System was unveiled today by federal, provincial and First Nations officials.


The plaque was unveiled by the Honourable David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, along with the Honourable Barry Penner, Minister of Environment for British Columbia, and Chief Harvey Alphonse of the Cowichan First Nation.


Located near Duncan, the river is the centrepiece of the Cowichan Valley and home to the Cowichan First Nation, which has maintained a strong connection to the river and surrounding area. The Cowichan has also played a significant role in development of the region.


“When we consider the role that rivers like the Cowichan played in the history of Canada, and continue to play in our lives today, we come to better understand their importance and the need to preserve and protect them,” said Anderson. “Canada’s heritage rivers are not only valuable resources, they are also witnesses of our past that offer Canadians unique opportunities to experience our shared natural heritage and history.”


Based on its outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values, the Province of British Columbia designated the Cowichan as a provincial Heritage River in 1995, the same year the Province protected portions of the river through the creation of Cowichan River Provincial Park. In 2003, B.C. nominated the river for national status as a Canadian Heritage River, which it received in early 2004.


“The Cowichan stands out as one of the most significant rivers in British Columbia,” said Penner. “As Vancouver Island’s first national heritage river, its importance to the region, the province and the nation is not only recognized but will be enhanced through ongoing community-based stewardship programs.


To the Cowichan First Nation, the river has provided sustenance and spiritual use over thousands of years. As the historical stewards of the river, the Cowichan First Nation will provide the leadership in development and delivery of stewardship programs.


“We considered the fish stock and habitat status, uncertainties around escapement and the catch program,” said Chief Alphonse. “We also included population, habitat recovery and stewardship goals, implementation and recovery costs. The co-operation of our three tiers of government will help to restore the Cowichan River to its once historical levels, which I was fortunate enough to witness.”


The designation of the Cowichan brings to three the number of rivers in British Columbia with Canadian heritage river status. The other two are the Fraser and the Kicking Horse. British Columbia, which has 20 provincial heritage rivers, is also proposing the Adams, Stikine and Skagit for Canadian heritage river status.


The Canadian Heritage Rivers Systems is Canada’s national river conservation program, through which federal, provincial and territorial governments and other interested parties co-operate to recognize, protect and manage Canadian rivers that represent outstanding natural and/or cultural values and recreation opportunities. Designation to the CHRS means that these natural, human and recreational values will not degrade and that landscaping will be done in accordance with the principles of sustainability and good stewardship.




For more information about the BC Heritage Rivers Program, visit online.


(Also available on the Internet at under “What’s new.”)


 1 backgrounder(s) attached.





Brigitte Caron

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of the Environment

819 997-1441


Don McDonald

Communications Director

Ministry of Environment

250 387-9973



Steve Langdon

Field Unit Superintendent

Parks Canada, Coastal British Columbia

250 363-3511


Brennan Gohn

Communications Manager

Khowutzun Development Corporation

250 746-8350


Visit the Province's website at for online information and services.