Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett signed the Heiltsuk Haíɫcístut Framework Agreement for Reconciliation Saturday.
The agreement establishes a shared vision, principles and objectives, and identifies negotiating priorities most important to Heiltsuk, including housing, infrastructure, community safety and prevention of violence against women, fish and marine resources, self-government, and a recognition of Heiltsuk’s Aboriginal rights and title.
At the same time, the Minister also announced Canada’s contribution of $2.5 million towards the construction of the Heiltsuk Big House, a new cultural, educational and political centre for the community.
- Heiltsuk traditional territory is located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, on the central coast of British Columbia. The community has a registered population of 1,128 people.
- The Heiltsuk word “Haíɫcístut” is a potlatch term and means to turn something around and make it right again.
- The Big House is being built using locally sourced red cedar harvested in the Heiltsuk Traditional Territory.
- The total cost of the Heiltsuk Big House is approximately $6 million. Heiltsuk contributed $3.5 million, with $2.5 million coming from Canada.
- This is the first community Big House in the village of Bella Bella since the Potlatch Ban of 1884 to 1951.