The Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation (KHFN) has signed an agreement which is meant to help fund stewardship and management activities in their territory.
KHFN is a part of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Tribal Council. Their territory runs through the Broughton Archipelago on the coast of so-called British Columbia, and includes Gwa-yas-dums (Gilford Island).
“Thanks to our Elders, we’ve remained in our traditional lands despite tremendous challenges,” says KHFN Chief Councillor Rick Johnson in a press release on May 25.
“Now we can start to deliver on our dream of having a big presence on our territories, just like our Ancestors did.”
The Hith’alis Agreement, meaning “fixing it together” in Kwak’wala, represents a partnership between KHFN, the B.C. government and Coast Funds, a conservation-focused finance organization that works specifically with First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.
The endowment, which will be managed by Coast Funds, will support KHFN with $721,000 to access “sustainable, self-determined stewardship finance,” according to the press release.
“It’s a start,” Johnson tells IndigiNews. “Another step closer to getting jobs and more benefits to our nation.”
“The big thing is having a presence on the territory,” he adds “This generation — we’re pretty much confined to our village. In the past, our people had a tremendous presence in the territory.”
According to the press release, the endowment funds will be used to increase ecosystem-based management, enhance critical salmon watersheds, and employ KHFN members.
It will also be used to support a guardian-watchmen program. Johnson says, as someone who comes from a long line of commercial fishers, he knows that boats and fishing equipment are expensive, and he hopes the endowment fund can sustain the program.
“Right now, [the guardian program] is a dream, but you’ve got to start there. You’ve got to shout out to the universe what you want and then see where it goes.”
“The goal of the funds is to empower First Nations to achieve healthy and vibrant economies and communities in tandem with the conservation of their homelands for the benefit of future generations,” says Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development in the May 25 statement.
Johnson says he’s excited at the prospect of building a positive relationship with the province and working towards what matters to KHFN.
“There’s bigger topics that I want to talk about around Rights and Title,” he says.