Marilyn Slett, chief of the Heiltsuk Nation at a news conference. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

Heiltsuk Nation sign agreement with feds and province for self-government

The Tuígila Agreement seeks practical solutions to demonstrate tangible commitment to reconciliation

The Heiltsuk Nation is moving forward along the path of reconciliation and self-government.

Last week chief councillor Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk Nation, along with the federal and provincial government, announced the signing of the Tuígila “To Make a Path Forward” Agreement for Implementation of Heiltsuk Title, Rights and Self-government.

The agreement provides a framework for discussions towards achieving practical solutions to help the Heiltsuk Nation achieve title, rights and inherent jurisdiction to the whole of their respective territory.

“The agreement brings us one step closer to achieving the mandate from our people, which is to obtain a declaration of Title to our lands and waters, and for Heiltsuk to exercise maximum control over our territory,” Slett stated.

READ MORE: Feds and Heiltsuk First Nation sign $37M reconciliation agreement

The agreement will work toward recognizing Heiltsuk rights outside of the courts and treaty process.

The Tuígila Agreement provides a framework for both levels of governments and the Heiltsuk Nation to plan concrete steps to implement Heiltsuk Aboriginal title and rights, including self-government.

The agreement will focus negotiations on collaborative support for a sustainable Heiltsuk economy, shared decision-making, revenue sharing, management of lands and resources, and jurisdiction. This includes discussions on Heiltsuk governance and management of lands in Heiltsuk territory, including the transition of Indian Reserves from Indian Act governance, as well as other parcels of land in non-common claim areas of Heiltsuk territory.

“The Heiltsuk have always been proactive in advancing our Title and Rights, whether it be through the courts, in negotiations, or through direct action. Today’s agreement builds on this strong history, and represents a new path forward for reconciling our relationship with Canada and BC,” said hereditary chief Harvey Humchitt Sr. of the Heiltsuk Nation.

Future areas of focus will be determined through ongoing negotiations.

READ MORE: Heiltsuk challenges feds decision to award $67M contract to east coast towing company


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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