Heiltsuk Nation and B.C. sign model reconciliation agreement
British Columbia and Heiltsuk Nation have signed a reconciliation agreement that supports their ongoing work together to implement Heiltsuk rights and title.
Hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt; Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett; Murray Rankin; Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; and Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast; participated in a virtual celebration of the agreement in a ceremony via livestream on June 18, 2021.
“We are glad to have reached the time when Heiltsuk rights and title are recognized by the Province, and they are committed to lasting reconciliation with Indigenous people,” said Hemas Harvey Humchitt, a Hereditary Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “As a Nation, the Heiltsuk look forward to the future, and continued work with the province as we move towards self-determination.”
Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation, said: “This agreement is an investment in our community that will improve our quality of life and create new memories for our people. Through our vision of self-determination, we have worked hard to create an evolving, incremental path towards reconciliation. This agreement is a major investment and step along that path, one that will create a better future for everybody.”
The ‘mṇúxvs Nuáqi – One Mind, One Thought Agreement provides an investment to Heiltsuk to carry forward commitments under the 2017 Haíłcístut: Framework Agreement, and the Haíłcístut: Laying the Foundation for Our Vision for Reconciliation document. This will also provide a foundation for implementation of Heiltsuk rights, title and self-government under the 2019 Tuígila Agreement with the provincial and federal governments.
“We share a vision with Heiltsuk, a vision of moving towards self-determination, achieved by supporting concrete measured steps that can be implemented on the ground in tangible, practical ways,” said Rankin. “Our common approach together to implement rights and title gives us an important model to draw on as we move forward with reconciliation all across the province.”
Heiltsuk Nation will receive a total of $22.33 million under the agreement. This investment will support a range of practical steps to meet immediate pressing needs of Heiltsuk, as well as advancing Heiltsuk priorities in the areas of self-government, economic development, environmental stewardship, cultural preservation and housing – referred to together as House Posts. Some of the plans for the funding include a language centre and language programs, tourism business opportunities, a business plan for a lumber mill and a long-term care facility for Heiltsuk Elders.
The House Post priorities are a reference to the Heiltsuk λiác̓i (bighouse) in Heiltsuk Territory. The Heiltsuk use the metaphor of the λiác̓i (bighouse) pillars when naming each subject area for negotiation to hold up the promise of reconciliation with British Columbia.
“Together, Heiltsuk and the Province have been working toward a strong relationship and a shared vision for progress on reconciliation,” said Rice. “Today’s One Mind, One Thought agreement provides the investment and support necessary to reaffirm our relationship and make this vision real.”
Heiltsuk Nation has strong internal governance, with an integrated elected and hereditary system, for which implementing rights and title is an important step towards self-determination. Negotiating incremental implementation of rights and title, instead of relying on the courts, helps avoid ongoing uncertainty and significant costs and is a key interest for both the Province and Heiltsuk.
The ‘mṇúxvs Nuáqi – One Mind, One Thought Agreement – is another step toward a prosperous future for Heiltsuk Nation and everyone in B.C.
- Heiltsuk is based on the central coast near Bella Bella.
- Heiltsuk has almost 2,500 members.
- Heiltsuk Nation Territory includes 35,553 square kilometres of land and sea.
2017 Haíłcístut: Framework Agreement:
High resolution b-roll and video clips from the signing ceremony will be available here: