September 19, 2005; Vancouver, B.C. – After more than five years of community consultations, research and government negotiations, the Heiltsuk Tribal Council today released an historic land-use plan for their territory which covers the heart of B.C.'s Central Coast, a region that has been the centre of environmental conflict for the past decade with environmentalists calling it the Great Bear Rainforest.

“The Heiltsuk Land Use Plan represents our vision of management for our territory. It will help us govern our territory as rightful landowners,” says Ross Wilson, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council. “We have never ceded title and rights to our land, and we expect the Province of British Columbia to respect this in their upcoming decision on wilderness protection and economic development in our territory.”

The plan, titled For Our Children's Tomorrows, calls for the creation of “Natural and
Cultural Areas” to protect pristine wilderness and Heiltsuk traditional use. In all other
areas, economic development activities, including forestry, must be conducted according to the principles of ecosystem-based management (EBM) defined as “a strategic approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the co-existence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities.”

Heiltsuk Territory encompasses about 16,770 square kilometres of land and an
additional 19,000 square kilometers of near-shore and offshore areas extending to
international waters. About 8,270 square kilometres or 49 percent of the land base is
protected as Heiltsuk Natural and Cultural Areas.

“The recent Throne Speech set a goal to eliminate, within 10 years, the inequities
plaguing First Nations and highlighted ‘the Crown's legal and moral duty' to consult on decisions impacting Aboriginal title and rights,” says Wilson. “I believe our land-use plan can be the foundation of a new relationship, which would recognize us as the original stewards of the land and resources, and key to economic development. Our plan could be a model for how First Nations, government, industry and environmental groups work together to balance human needs and environmental protection.”

The land-use plan provides general management direction for ten key resource sectors including cultural heritage, plants, forests, wildlife and biodiversity, hunting and trapping, beaches, fresh water, tourism, minerals and energy, and wilderness access. In all sectors, the Heiltsuk call for the conservation of cultural and natural resources, and Heiltsuk priority access to resources for cultural and sustenance use.

There are also six key policy statements highlighting principles for EBM, consultation
and protected areas, and banning salmon aquaculture, off-shore oil and gas
development, and the over-harvesting of cedar in Heiltsuk Territory.

“Cedar is extremely important for our cultural survival, but we've witnessed overharvesting of old-growth cedar in our territory. This must stop,” says Harvey Humchitt, a Hemas or hereditary chief. “The Heiltsuk need to be involved with the logging plans and development proposals in our territory. We want to see ecosystem-based management, not the industrial liquidation of our natural and cultural assets.”

The land-use plan's release comes shortly before a major announcement by the
Province about wilderness protection on the B.C. coast. In January 2004, the Central
Coast Land and Resource Management Planning (CCLRMP) table, consisting of
representatives from communities, labour, environmental groups, tourism, forest
companies and recreation interests, reached an unprecedented consensus on land-use
recommendations for B.C.’s Central Coast.

Since then, environmental groups have raised tens of millions of dollars in conservation investments to finance sustainable economic development for First Nations and local communities in the region. The conservation investment package depends on matching grants from the Province and Ottawa. A provincial government announcement on the matching funds and consensus agreement is anticipated shortly.

“Recent decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada have made it abundantly clear to
industry and government that Aboriginal title and rights must be respected in land-use
decisions,” says Wilson. “So far, I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing from government officials and anticipate that the Province's announcement will respect the Heiltsuk vision for our territory.”

Kelly Brown, Heiltsuk Land Use Plan Coordinator, will be presenting a technical briefing to stakeholders at 11:30 a.m., following the 10:00 a.m. press conference in Room “C” at the Roundhouse Community Centre at the corner of Davie Street and Pacific Boulevard in Vancouver's Yaletown on Monday, September 19, 2005.

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Heiltsuk Land Use Plan

Guiding Principles

A “living document,” the Heiltsuk Land Use Plan will be reviewed on an ongoing basis,
as new information is gathered. It is not intended to set in stone a rigid collection of
rules. Rather, it is a guide that is flexible and practical. Gvi'ilas, the Heiltsuk's set of
customary laws, serves as the paramount principle for managing resources. Other
guiding principles, in order of priority, for land management include:

1) Ensure conservation of natural and cultural resources

2) Ensure Heiltsuk priority access to resources for cultural and sustenance use

3) Enable appropriate Heiltsuk commercial and recreational use of resources

4) Enable appropriate non-Heiltsuk commercial and recreational use of resources

Key Policy Statements

• Ecosystem-Based Management: Past resource management approaches have failed. Thus, the Heiltsuk support the guiding principles of EBM, believing they are consistent with Gvi'ilas, the Heiltsuk traditional way.

• Salmon Aquaculture: Fish farming adversely affects the health and long-term survival
of wild Pacific salmon. Therefore, the Heiltsuk do not support salmon farming as it is
currently practiced.

• Offshore Oil & Gas: The Heiltsuk have serious concerns regarding the safety and
advisability of engaging in offshore oil and gas development and exploration, and
therefore are not supportive of these activities in their territory.

• Old-growth Cedar: If industrial logging of old-growth cedar continues at the same
rate as the past 15 years, there may be a future shortfall of large old-growth cedar for
Heiltsuk uses. Thus, logging must be done cautiously to ensure that cedar is
sustained forever.

• Protected Areas: Any federal or provincial government proposals for designation of
new parks, conservancies, nature reserves or other legislated protected areas
require consultation and co-management with the Heiltsuk Nation.

• Referrals & Consultation. Consultation is initiated through a formal written
submission to the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and shall be considered completed only
when the Heiltsuk and other parties have reached mutual agreement.

Land-Use Designations

Heiltsuk Territory encompasses about 16,770 square kilometres of land and an
additional 19,000 square kilometres of near-shore and offshore areas extending to
international waters. About 8,270 square kilometres or 49 percent of the land base is
protected as Natural and Cultural Areas. All other areas are designated Ecosystem-
Based Management Areas. These two land-use designations have been created and
applied throughout the territory.

1) Cultural and Natural Areas are managed to maintain their natural and cultural
values, while maintaining or enhancing opportunities for traditional use and
minimizing adverse impacts on natural and cultural values. The areas will be kept
largely in a natural or wilderness condition, although low-impact tourism and
access may be permissible.

2) Ecosystem-based Management Areas are managed according to EBM
principles and practices. The areas provide appropriate opportunities for
resource development while maintaining or enhancing opportunities for traditional
use and minimizing adverse impacts on natural and cultural values.

Land-use designations are a tool for ensuring that different areas of land are used in a
way that is compatible with Heiltsuk values and needs. The rights of the Heiltsuk to hunt, gather, fish, trap and continue activities for social, cultural, commercial, ceremonial and sustenance purposes are not limited by the setting down of any land-use designations. The Heiltsuk Nation are currently desigining a Marine Use Plan that will be integrated with this Land Use Plan.

For more information,
Contact Kelly Brown, Heiltsuk Land Use Plan Coordinator, cell: (604) 831-2848.