What is the SDM in BC project?

The Shared Decision Making in BC project represents an effort to understand more clearly where SDM agreements have come from, what they mean, and how they are working so far.

The term ‘SDM Agreements’ refers to the suite of non-treaty Reconciliation Protocols and Strategic Engagement Agreements that have been negotiated and implemented in British Columbia since 2009, and which apply primarily to land and resource management matters.

This collaborative research initiative, conducted through Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue and with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), established a ‘community of practice’ so that those involved in the implementation of SDM agreements could learn from one another, in a collegial environment away from the negotiating table, identify best practices, and together make the most of the lessons and opportunities these agreements provide.

Over the course of two and a half years, the SDM in BC project successfully brought together First Nations who are actively involved in the negotiation and implementation of SDM Agreements in a community of practice, brokered dialogue-archive between First Nations and provincial agencies, and generated multiple research products to inform implementation efforts. To date, the SDM in BC project remains the only initiative that has provided a ‘learning space’ for multi-lateral discussions related to the implementation of SDM Agreements.

Research Methods

Goals and Objectives

  1. Improve awareness and understanding of the scope and intent of SDM arrangements in British Columbia among practitioners involved in negotiation and implementation, First Nations, resource agencies and other interested parties;
  2. Facilitate the exchange of information and experience among practitioners currently involved in the development and implementation of SDM arrangements;
  3. Undertake detailed case study analyses of selected SDM arrangements, in collaboration with those directly involved;
  4. Assist in the development of tools and identification of best practices to support the negotiation and implementation of SDM arrangements in BC; and,
  5. Develop information products summarizing efforts to establish SDM arrangements in BC to inform innovation in governance in other jurisdictions.

Research Methods and Roles

Research methods used for the SDM in BC project included:

  • Development of a conceptual model, research framework & questions
  • Literature reviews, drawing from published and grey literature;
  • Semi-structured interviews, completed by telephone or in person;
  • Case study analyses, in cooperation with practitioners; and,
  • Collaborative workshops, examining specific topics and issues of shared interest.

The SDM in BC Project was led and coordinated by the Project Team. All First Nations that had completed SDM Agreements were invited to participate as collaborative research partners, with various options for the scope and timing of involvement, depending on level of interest and available resources.

Research Partners & Advisors

Research protocols were established with all active research partners, and consent letters completed before information gathering commenced.

First Nations research partners included representatives from:

  • Coastal First Nations
  • Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs
  • Kaska Dene Council
  • Ktunaxa Nation Council
  • Nanwakolas Council
  • Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre
  • Tahltan Central Council
  • Taku River Tlingit First Nation
  • Tsilhqot’in National Government

Representatives from the following BC Ministries also provided input and advice, or participated in SDM in BC Project dialogue-archives:

  • Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
  • Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources
  • Ministry of Energy and Mines
  • Natural Resource Transformation Secretariat
  • GeoBC

Research Project Team 

Julian Griggs, Project Director

Julian is an independent consultant with 25 years experience working with First Nations, all levels of government, non-profits and private sector organizations, on issues related to land and resource management, environmental sustainability, climate and energy, and organizational development. Since 1999, he has had the privilege of working closely with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation on the development and implementation of an SDM Agreement and strategic land use plan, and has helped to facilitate several other First Nations planning processes and multi-party initiatives over the last two decades in areas such as the Muskwa Kechika, the Great Bear Rainforest and among the Northern Nations in BC. Julian holds international accreditation as a Certified Professional Facilitator, provides individual coaching for professionals, and offers regular training on conflict resolution, leadership and group facilitation.

Jenna Dunsby, Project Assistant

Jenna took on the role of Project Assistant while completing her Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, with a focus on collaborative governance and sustainable natural resource management. Prior to joining SDM in BC, she held project coordination and engagement-related positions at a variety of environmental non-profits across Canada. Jenna is grateful to have played a part in convening the important conversations and research efforts that took place during the lifespan of the SDM in BC Project.


The SDM in BC Project Team is deeply grateful to all of the First Nations and First Nations representatives who participated as active partners in this collaborative research initiative. Over a period of more than two years, many individual First Nation practitioners were extraordinarily generous in contributing their time, expertise and experience, sometimes travelling for several days to attend dialogue-archive sessions in Vancouver. Without their insight and guidance none of this work would have been completed. The SDM in BC Project Team also extends sincere thanks to the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation for its invaluable advice and guidance and for facilitating interviews and discussions with many individual agency staff from MARR and other resource ministries.

Thanks are also offered to Tara Marsden for helping shape the early stages of the SDM in BC project.

This project would not have been possible without generous funding provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and in particular the support of Ivan Thompson, BC Program Officer. The SDM in BC Project team is also grateful for the support and assistance from the staff at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, which provided a home for this initiative.

Thanks are also extended to Darcy Dobell, who provided excellent editing support for several of the final products from the project.

Finally, the SDM in BC Project Team is also indebted to the Project Advisory Committee, Mark Winston, Don Bain, and Ivan Thompson, who offered support, encouragement and sage advice at critical junctures.

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