Heiltsuk to Rebuild their Governance with Multi-Year Support from NCFNG
Heiltsuk BC, October 4, 2011 - The Heiltsuk Tribal Council signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Centre for First Nations Governance to formalize a relationship that started in 2007.
Heiltsuk is embarking on a citizen driven process to develop a constitution, get beyond the Indian Act and implement more independent governance. The signing paves the way for the Centre to deliver multi-year support as the Heiltsuk Tribal Council prepares for nation rebuilding that will be based on extensive community consultation.
Heiltsuk demonstrated their unity by having both the Hemas (Hereditary Chiefs) and elected leadership sign the memorandum of understanding. In the words of Elder Liz Brown, speaking on behalf of the Elders Advisory Council, “It is important to unite and work together so that we can be the proud owners of our own lands”.
“This memorandum of understanding signifies that we come to you with full understanding, recognition and respect for who you are” stated NCFNG President, Satsan (Herb George). The signing marks a significant addition to the way the Centre delivers services. NCFNG recognizes that nation rebuilding is a long term process and is negotiating multi-year agreements with First Nations that want more support than can be provided by NCFNG’s two-day workshops.
For the past four years, the Centre has been invited to participate in several key strategic initiatives with Heiltsuk Tribal Council. In December 2007, the NCFNG began working with the Heiltsuk Nation by conducting a Governance Capacity Assessment (GCA) to evaluate the Nation’s capacity based on indigenous principles of effective governance. The final report, submitted in December 2008, identified the many strengths of the Nation and outlined 11 recommendations to build on those strengths.
Over the past year, the Heiltsuk Nation has been extremely active in advancing their inherent rights. Many of the tangible outcomes that have recently emerged are directly related to the GCA recommendations. Heiltsuk has recently established an Aboriginal Rights and Title department and developed a shared approach to guide the work of each of the economic development resource departments. Additionally, they are working on an organizational strategic plan to link all departments and services within the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and support the long-term vision of the people
These are significant outcomes as they ensure that all of the council’s actions and initiatives are contributing to the community’s strategic vision as defined by the Heiltsuk people themselves. According to Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor, “We are all here to make a better place for our people”.
The NCFNG is an innovative service-based organization that offers nation rebuilding services to First Nations in Canada, assisting them as they develop effective day-to-day government operations and supporting them as they pursue independent governance.