B.C. provides reconciliation funding to Heiltsuk

BC provides $22 million in funding as part of earlier reconciliation agreement

Heiltsuk Hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt,l eft, and Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett sign latest agreement on funding at formal ceremony Friday. | Screengrab

The B.C. government will provide $22 million to the Heiltsuk First Nation of Bella Bella as part of a formal reconciliation agreement signed in 2019.

The agreement “formalizes the investment into our community on the community priorities,” said Marilyn Slett, chief councillor for the Heiltsuk Nation.

Those priorities include funding for 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 funding is part of part of reconciliation agreement formalized with the Heiltsuk by the B.C. and federal governments in 2019 that commits to the “demarcation” of Heiltsuk lands and legal establishment of Heiltsuk title, self-government and revenue sharing.

“These are important steps along the journey,” said Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous Relations.  “I’m confident we’re going have more agreements.”

The reconciliation agreements the B.C and federal governments have signed with the Heiltsuk and other First Nations recently have some elements of a treaty, but are not nearly as comprehensive.

Mainly they commit to more clearly defininng aboriginal rights and title and shared land and resource use.

The Heiltsuk agreement commits the provincial and federal governments to a formal demarcation of Heiltsuk land, legal establishment of title to that land, self-government, land and resource use agreements and revenue sharing.