The Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella is celebrating July 1 as ‘Heiltsuk Day’ with the purchase and transfer of the 70-year-old Shearwater Resort and Marina from the Widsten family for $12.7 million, using funds secured through a reconciliation agreement signed with the Canadian government.
The transfer includes an initial 21 job opportunities for Heiltsuk members. The nation will continue to operate the resort for guests, adding new offerings like ecotourism and cultural experiences.
Moorage and hotel bookings will open for B.C .residents on July 23 and the rest of Canada on Aug. 1.
Sports fishing opportunities may resume next year. The nation is marking the occasion with a ribbon-cutting, cultural ceremonies, speeches and a flag raising at the resort.
“This purchase is about creating new economic opportunities and new memories for our people,” said Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation.
“It is a testament to our resilience, and an example of reconciliation in action. We look forward to building on the legacy of Shearwater and to welcoming guests into our territory in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, when it is safe to do so.”
The purchase represents the nation’s largest investment in economic development to date, and includes the reclamation of 63 acres of waterfront property, and the transfer of a dozen businesses.
“This purchase is an example of the Haíɫzaqv-made version of how to do reconciliation,” said Hemas Harvey Humchitt Sr., a Hereditary Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation.
“It shows the hard work of our community and joint leadership is paying off, with the reclamation of land and the creation of new economic opportunities for our members.”
Highlights of the purchase include:
• 63 acres of waterfront view property, and 32 acres of foreshore leases
• Deep water marina/moorage (3,000 lineal ft. with 15-, 30- and 50-amp service)
• Two waterfront lodges (50 rooms), 15 detached homes, 12-site RV park & campground
• Marine and aviation fuel station
• Shipyard with 15,000 sq/ft shop, Volvo dealership, heavy machinery, and vehicles
• Grocery store, liquor store, deli, post office and laundromat
• 106-seat licensed pub, 60-seat licensed restaurant and upstairs corporate lounge
• Hardware store, recycling centre, propane sales, rentals and leasing
• 18 sports fishing boats and the 46 ft. “Pacific Lure” charter yacht
• Seabus and water taxi service
The purchase was made using funds secured through the Haíɫcístut Incremental House Post Agreement signed between the Heiltsuk Nation and the Canadian federal government on July 15, 2019, with an investment of $42.72 million to address the Heiltsuk community priorities of Self-Government; Housing and Infrastructure; Economic Development; and Language Revitalization and Preservation.
The parties to the agreement signed and completed the final purchase for Shearwater Co. on June 30, 2021, following due diligence and inventory review.