Reconciliation in Action: Minister Bennett and Chief Slett Sign the Heiltsuk Hai´¿ci´stut Framework Agreement for Reconciliation

News Release

January 28, 2017 – Bella Bella, British Columbia – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to renewing the nation-to nation relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

Today the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett took a step forward on the path to reconciliation by signing the Heiltsuk Haíɫcístut Framework Agreement for Reconciliation.

The Agreement establishes a shared vision, principles and objectives, and identifies negotiating priorities most important to Heiltsuk, including housing, infrastructure, community safety and prevention of violence against women, fish and marine resources, self-government, and a recognition of Heiltsuk’s Aboriginal rights and title.

At the same time, the Minister also announced Canada’s contribution of $2.5 million towards the construction of the Heiltsuk Big House, a new cultural, educational and political centre for the community.


“Today, I am so proud to be part of a significant step forward on the path towards true reconciliation. It is an honour to sign the Framework Agreement along with Chief Marilyn Slett and tour the future location of the Heiltsuk Big House. The beautiful space will enable a safe space for your members, youth and elders, to gather as a community. It is more than a building – it is hope for the future.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“The Heiltsuk have much to celebrate and be proud of. We Believe the Haíɫcístut Framework Agreement is a turning point in our relationship to Canada. We are literally turning things around and making things right. It is the first step in our journey towards reconciliation. Reconciliation is vital to the Heiltsuk as we continue to build a healthy economy and healthy community. The Government of Canada’s actions demonstrate that they are committed to working on a nation-to-nation basis with the Heiltsuk.”

Chief Marilyn Slett,
Heiltsuk Nation

Quick facts

  • Heiltsuk traditional territory is located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, on the central coast of British Columbia. Thus community has a registered population of 1128 people.
  • The Heiltsuk word “Haíɫcístut” is a potlatch term and means to turn something around and make it right again.
  • The Big House is being built using locally sourced red cedar harvested in the Heiltsuk Traditional Territory.
  • The total cost of the Heiltsuk Big House is approximately $6 million. Heiltsuk contributed $3.5 million, with $ 2.5 million coming from Canada.
  • Heiltsuk is committed to a government-to-government relationship based on respect, recognition, renewal and accommodation of Heiltsuk title and rights.
  • Reconciliation is done with an understanding and respect for Heiltsuk culture and heritage.
  • This is the first community Big House in the village of Bella Bella since the Potlatch Ban of 1884 to 1951.

Associated links

For more information, the media may contact:

Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Marilyn Slett
Chief Councilor
Heiltsuk Nation

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