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About Heiltsuk Nation


Welcome to HeiltsukNation!

Welcome to the Heiltsuk Nation's official website. As the Heiltsuk Nation, we are a proud Indigenous community residing in the territory known as the Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Our history spans thousands of years, deeply rooted in the lands and waters that have sustained us for generations.
This website serves as a digital platform for us to share our guiding principles and values with the world. We are dedicated to preserving and revitalizing our cultural heritage while promoting a sustainable and harmonious relationship with our environment.
Our community holds sacred the teachings passed down through the ages, embracing our unique customs, languages, and practices. Through this website, we strive to create an inclusive space that celebrates our traditions, fosters intergenerational connections, and encourages a deeper understanding of our way of life.
We are committed to advocating for the rights and well-being of the Heiltsuk people. Our vision is rooted in social justice, self-determination, and the pursuit of equitable opportunities for all members of our community. By sharing our stories, challenges, and triumphs, we aim to raise awareness and inspire positive change.
Education is a cornerstone of our mission. Through the resources and information provided on this website, we seek to promote cross-cultural understanding, challenge stereotypes, and dismantle misconceptions about Indigenous peoples. We believe that knowledge is a powerful tool for reconciliation and building bridges of understanding between communities.
We invite you to explore our website, learn about our history, culture, and ongoing initiatives. By engaging with our content, we hope to foster connections and dialogue, and encourage collaboration with individuals, organizations, and communities who share our commitment to reconciliation, environmental stewardship, and the preservation of Indigenous rights.
Thank you for joining us on this journey as we continue to celebrate and honor the legacy of the Heiltsuk Nation. Together, we can create a more inclusive and sustainable future, grounded in respect for the past and present.


Our History and Story

Qṇts núyṃ́

Haíłzaqv / Heiltsuk means “to speak and act in the right way.” It embeds our ancient and contemporary principles and frames our relationships with each other and with our natural world.

It informs our ǧvi̓ḷás (laws) to uphold our traditional and contemporary practices to ensure continued sustainability and sustenance for the generations to come. It requires us to leave a legacy of an intact and thriving Hailzhaqv world that our future children will benefit from to ensure health and wellness.

Hí lṇ́txv gvúkvḷa la gax̌v la ǧiálayáx̌i: We, the Haíɫzaqv, have been here since the beginning of time. We identify as Heiltsuk people inhabiting our homelands since time immemorial. Archaeological evidence corroborates our nu’yem (oral history and stories) for at least 14,000 years.
Our nu’yem tells how our ancestors survived the Ice Age of 11,700 years age now corroborated by scientific research of sea level hinge where our ancestors lived during this period. After that, our nu’yem tells how our ancestors survived the subsequent great floods by moving up two high mountains which bookend the island we live on currently.
When Indian Bands and reserves were established in 1822, we were allocated 22 Indian reserves. In 1884, another Indian reserve survey was conducted and our village was named “Bella Bella”. At the beginning, our Nation was registered as the “Bella Bella Indian Band” and we are now registered “Heiltsuk Indian Band” but are recognized as “Heiltsuk Nation”. Today we have 34 Indian reserves for a total of 35,553 sq. kms—a small fraction of our inherited rights and title to our homelands and waters.
Our amalgamated Heiltsuk territory includes Wuyalitx, ‘Qvuqvayaitxv, Wuilitxv, Yisdaitxv and Xixis tribes. Bella Bella is located on the Bella Bella Indian Reserve #1 located on Campbell Island on the Central Coast of what is now known as British Columbia. We have a common híɫzaqvḷa language with shared cultural, political, socio-economic and other unifying societal infrastructures.

At the beginning, our Nation was comprised of at least 50 permanent villages and seasonal food harvest camps situated along the network of salmon rivers and along well-established marine trading routes. Our collective population was in excess of 10,000 with our ancestors adapting and thriving over millennia until our numbers were reduced to 300 in 1899. Epidemics wiped out entire villages beginning with the smallpox pandemic in 1860. From 1860-1880, our tribal groups began to amalgamate to ’Qḷ́c a village site at Fort McLaughlin, now known as “Old Town”. This was the site where the Hudson’s Bay Trading post was established in 1833 and a medical mission established in 1897. To accommodate increasing population in 1900, the Heiltsuk people relocated to the current community site. It was known as “Waglisla” and later renamed “New Bella Bella.”
Our nu’yem is that no matter where we live, we are Heiltsuk and that we have a long ancestral connection to each other based on deeply rooted lineages. While our ancestors lived in tribal groups, they maintained these interrelationships. Our teaching that no matter where we live, we continue to be sovereign citizens of Heiltsuk Nation. For educational, employment and other reasons, our citizens live away from Bella Bella but our interconnections remain supportive and strong. Our genealogy and lineage stem from at least 700 generations of Heiltsuk people who lived in tribal groups within our territory. Strong connections and alliances were maintained through arranged marriages among children of Hemas and their descendants are part of Heiltsuk Nation today. This strong root began to be impacted by the legal removal of our children to attend school away beginning in 1890 when the residential school institutes were established with attendance mandated by law. Many perished in these institutes. Other corrosive impacts included the Sixties Scoop and removal of our children who were put into external foster care or adoptions. The enfranchisement of 50 or more Heiltsuk women and their children added further to the attempted demise of our existence. Yet, we continue to grow and thrive.

Our Mission

Our mission is to uphold the guiding principles and values of the Heiltsuk Nation through this website. We aim to foster a deep understanding and appreciation of our rich cultural heritage, promote sustainable practices, and advocate for the rights and well-being of our community. Through meaningful engagement, education, and empowerment, we strive to build bridges of understanding, preserve our ancestral knowledge, and inspire positive change for current and future generations of the Heiltsuk Nation.

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