Bella Bella, BC – Leaders of the Heiltsuk Nation and the Government of Canada signed a groundbreaking agreement today that provides an investment of $36.96 million over three years in four Heiltsuk priority “House Post” areas, and additional funding for fisheries management, including increased training, enforcement authority and joint management of crab and salmon fisheries in Heiltsuk Territory.
The house post refers to both past and present bighouses – the ones Heiltsuk were prohibited to build, the ones that were built by their ancestors, and the one that is being built today in Bella Bella (the first of its kind in the community in over 100 years).
The Heiltsuk use the concept of bighouse pillars for subject areas for negotiation to hold up the promise of Reconciliation with Canada. The areas addressed by today’s agreement include Self-Government; Housing and Infrastructure; Economic Development; and Language Revitalization and Preservation.
“Today’s agreement is the culmination of a three-year Heiltsuk-driven process, that began with the question, “What would Reconciliation with Canada look like to Heiltsuk?” said Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation. “We commend Canada for meeting us on our terms and showing that things can be done collaboratively. We look forward to walking more steps together on the path towards Reconciliation.”
The agreement is one of the first agreements concluded showcasing alternative pathways to Reconciliation in Canada, and was sparked by the Declaration of Heiltsuk Title and Rights in 2015, followed by the joint signing in January 2017 of Haίƚcίstut: Framework for Reconciliation, which established a shared vision, principles and objectives, and identified negotiating priorities most important to Heiltsuk.
“In signing today’s precedent-setting agreement, we are not ceding any rights or title,” said Harvey Humchitt Sr., a Hereditary Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “Throughout this process we have met Canada on a level playing field, and through the hard work of our community and joint leadership, we have developed a Heiltsuk-made version of how to do Reconciliation.”
Other highlights of the agreement include investment in increased capacity at the Bella Bella Fish Plant; increased allocation of quota and licenses for the Heiltsuk Nation; additional salmon hatchery opportunities; and additional shellfish aquaculture opportunities.
Haíɫcístut Incremental House Post Agreement is the product of a Heiltsuk-led, results-based Reconciliation process. “Haíɫcístut” is a potlatch term that means to turn something around and make it right again. It speaks to creating a new path forward with Canada and Reconciliation on Heiltsuk terms.
Video on the Reconciliation process is available for media use here: http://www.hirmd.ca/reconciliation.html
Background information and photos from today’s signing will be here: https://bit.ly/30Ym9T4
For more information or to arrange an interview:
Chief Marilyn Slett
Facebook: Heiltsuk Tribal Council