A North Island First Nation has declared 40,000 hectares of their traditional territory as an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.
On Friday, at a gathering in Sooke, the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation (KHFN) made the declaration. According to a statement from the nation, the region is important because it contains cultural and archaeological sites and is crucial for food security.
“It is past time that KHFN and all Indigenous Nations become fully recognized as the proper caretakers of our lands and waters. For too long, we have witnessed the impacts caused by other governments and industries who have benefited from extractive practices in our territories to the detriment of the food resources that sustain our people,” says Hereditary and Elected KHFN Chief, Tlakuglus, Rick Johnson. “This IPCA represents our vision for a future where all beings thrive. Upholding our laws will ensure that the medicines, the foods, the cedar, the salmon, the eulachon and all of the maʼmikas that are sacred to our people will always be there.”
The declaration covers the east side of Gilford Island to the mainland, including Thompson Sound, Tribune Channel and Bond Sound, and surrounding lands.
Neither provincial or federal governments have commented on the declaration.
However the KHFN says they are willing to talk.
“KHFN looks forward to discussing with BC and Canada how they can support our IPCA, in keeping with commitments they made to partner with First Nations to protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030, and the recently announced Tripartite Nature Agreement,” says Hereditary Chief Ol Siwid, Mike Willie.
Several other indigenous protected areas exist in BC, including the Meares Island Tribal Park on the West Coast. They remain in a legal grey area in how they are acknowledged by Canadian law.