40,000 Hectares of Indigenous Territory Near Port McNeil is Now a Protected Area

A building at the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation main village at Gwa’yas’dums (Gilford Island).
“Upholding our laws will ensure that the medicines, the foods, the cedar, the salmon, the eulachon and all of the maʼmikas [natural resources] that are sacred to our people will always be there,” said Hereditary and Elected KHFN Chief, Tlakuglus, Rick Johnson. Photo credit: Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation

40,000 hectares of Kwikwasuti’nuxw Haxwa’mis ancestral land have been declared an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA). Hereditary chiefs of the Kwikwasuti’nuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation (KHFN) gathered in Sooke for the historic move to safeguard the region’s rich natural resources, cultural sites, and economic sustainability.  

While the BC government was not involved in the IPCA process, BC Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen has since expressed his support for the IPCA.

The Kwikwasuti’nuxw Haxwa’mis have long been vocal about the importance of resource protection in their territories, with a focus on Pacific salmon. Salmon in the region were fast disappearing due to unchecked overfishing practices by corporations. Efforts to enlist support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada were fruitless.

A map showing the protected areas of the Kwikwasuti’nuxw Haxwa’mis territory
The IPCA will encompass Hada (Bond Sound) and Kakweikan (Thompson Sound) in the Broughton Archipelago. Photo credit: Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation

The KHFN had also joined forces with other Broughton Islands First Nations to remove Atlantic salmon fish farms from their territories. This new IPCA, as well as the fish farm bans, demonstrates how Indigenous communities are taking charge of their lands and resources and driving proactive change, which is their right under ancestral law.

Hereditary Chief Dr. Robert Joseph
Hereditary Chief Dr. Robert Joseph stressed that the IPCA is a win-win for all and that the government should welcome a partnership with KHFN on this IPCA. Photo credit: The Indigenous Foundation

On the benefits of the IPCA, Hereditary Chief Dr. Robert Joseph said: “Natural resources will be better protected, food security will be advanced, Indigenous employment will increase, and the economy will stabilize.”

Learn more about the IPCA in this article from The Skeena.