Negotiating status: Negotiating a comprehensive treaty settlement in the British Columbia Treaty Commission six-stage treaty process.
Negotiating affiliation: Negotiating independently with Canada and British Columbia. Not affiliated with a tribal council or treaty group.
Location: Campbell Island on B.C.'s Central Coast. Main community is Bella Bella. (23 reserves on 1,369 hectares.)
Number of Band Members: 2,192 (Source: Registered Indian Population by Sex and
Residence December 2007 (last available data) Indian and Northern Affairs Canada)
The Heiltsuk Nation entered the treaty process in December 1993, and is in Stage 4 of the six-stage process, negotiating an agreement in principle. The treaty table has not met since 2003.
The Heiltsuk are part of the Coast First Nations Turning Point Initiative, which has been working together to develop a new conservation-based economy on BC’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.
In December 2009, the Heiltsuk was one of six Coastal First Nations to sign the Coastal Reconciliation Protocol. Through the protocol:
- $12.5-million provincial funding and $12.5-million federal stimulus funding will be provided to build a new, larger ferry terminal at Klemtu.
- An estimated 150 jobs will be created to build the new ferry terminal at Klemtu.
- A shared-decision process will be established for resource and land use that will create certainties for process and timelines in decision-making through the involvement of First Nations.
- The Coastal First Nations will receive a total of $3.2 million over six years to fund their participation in the shared-decision making process.
- The Province is including potential carbon offsets for the first time. As carbon offsets are determined, the Coastal First Nations will receive a portion of the carbon offsets within their traditional territories.
- An Alternative Energy Action Plan will be created by both parties to advance alternative energy projects on the central and north coast.
- A commitment on the part of the Province to work with the First Nations to ensure they receive an equitable portion of commercial recreation permits and tenures.
Land and Resource Agreements
In September 2003, the Heiltsuk and the Province signed an agreement to co-manage the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area. The Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area represents 123,000 hectares of land and marine environment. The agreement gives the First Nation direct involvement in new tourism opportunities as well as conservation.
In February 2004, the Heiltsuk and three other mid- and north-coast First Nations signed forestry agreements with the province that provide the First Nations with forest revenue and tenure opportunities. The agreement with the Heiltsuk gives them $5.7 million in forest revenue sharing and access to 485,000 cubic metres of timber over five years in the Mid-Coast Timber Supply Area and Block 7 of Tree Farm Licence 39 on the central coast.
In February 2006, the B.C. government announced land use decisions for the Central Coast and North Coast. The decisions pave the way for finalizing government-to-government land use agreements with 25 First Nations, including the Heiltsuk Nation, that incorporate aspects of the cultural values and ecological and economic interests of the First Nation.
In March 2006, the province granted a log export request from the Heiltsuk First Nation to help support a proposed dry land wood sort north of Bella Bella. For one year, the First Nations community and other licence holders in the Mid-Coast Timber Supply Area were permitted to export up to 35 per cent of their harvest to make cutting more economical, support more logging jobs and help to finance the Heiltsuk log sort. In March 2007, log export approvals were extended to August 31, 2007.
As dates are established for open public meetings, they will be publicized through the local media and on the British Columbia Treaty Commission website Negotiations Calendar.