Today the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett and Hereditary Chief, Wígvíɫba-Wákas, Harvey Humchitt Sr. Heiltsuk Yimas, took another step forward on the path to reconciliation by signing the Haíɫcístut Incremental House Post Agreement.
The reconciliation agreement provides an investment of $36.96 million over three-years to address the House Post community priorities of: Self-Government; Housing and Infrastructure; Economic Development; and Language Revitalization and Preservation.
Additional funding will be provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada towards the priority of fisheries management. These investments include: increased training, enforcement authority and monitoring; joint management of crab and salmon fisheries sectors in the Heiltsuk Territory; 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.
The House Post priorities are a reference to the Heiltsuk λiác̓i (bighouse) currently under construction in Bella Bella. 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 Canada.
The Heiltsuk people gave direction to focus on a results-based process along with taking an incremental approach to reconciliation. Haίƚcίstut, which is a Heiltsuk word meaning “To Turn Things Around and Make things Right Again”, is the second of four steps, set out in the Heiltsuk and Federal Framework Agreement signed in 2017.
“The Heiltsuk Nation has worked so hard to articulate their vision – Haíɫcístut. Today through the signing of the House Post Agreement, Canada is committing to support the priority areas that can be advanced in the short-term and that address the Nation’s vision of reconciliation. The Heiltsuk vision recognizes that the foundation of a healthy and strong community includes not only economic development, housing and infrastructure, but also cultural components such as language revitalization and preservation. With these strong pillars in place, Canada is proud to work with the Heiltsuk Nation on their path to self-determination.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“Today’s ground-breaking 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?” We commend Canada for listening, and for meeting us on our terms, showing that things can be done collaboratively. We look forward to walking more steps together towards reconciliation.”
Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett
“This historic agreement with the Heiltsuk Nation is a tangible demonstration of the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation. We share common values of conserving and protecting of our oceans and our fisheries. This agreement ensures a way forward for the Heiltsuk Nation’s fisheries for today and for future generations.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“In signing today’s precedent-setting agreement, we are not ceding any rights or title. 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.”
Hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt Sr.,
Heiltsuk traditional territory is located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, on the central coast of British Columbia. This community has a registered population of 2,470 people.
On January 28, 2017, Canada and Heiltsuk signed the Haίƚcίstut: Framework for Reconciliation, which established a shared vision, principles and objectives, and identifies negotiating priorities most important to Heiltsuk.
The Heiltsuk word “Haíɫcístut” is a potlatch term and means to turn something around and make it right again.