GITGA'AT FIRST NATION
Preserving Culture, Tradition & Territory While Embracing New Opportunities
Our Community, Culture, Lands, Waters, and Current Projects
The Gitga’at First Nation is based in Txalgiuw (Hartley Bay) where the community has existed for millennia in the lands and waters of the area. Approximately 130 members currently live in Hartley Bay with other members residing in other BC cities such as Prince Rupert, Terrace, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver.
Gitk’a’ata Territory is the ceremonial and political foundation of the GFN. Historically, the nation has had very close ties to the lands and waters of our territory. An example of this is seasonal food gathering where members who live elsewhere return home to join their family for harvest.
Within our territory, several sites are spiritually enriched by the traces of ancestors. These locations include petroglyphs, burial sites, shell middens, culturally modified trees, and other important historical and/or archaeological sites. An important part of Gitga’at culture is connecting with our ancestors and cultural heritage, and these sites are one way to do that.
For governance and administration, the Nation has a fully elected band council, but the foundation of social and ceremonial power in the community is derived from customary structure. This is based around the Sm’ooygyet (Real Person) who represents three clans or crest groups: Gispudwada, (Blackfish or Killer Whale), Laxsgiik (Eagle), and Ganhada (Raven). Upholding traditional values is important, and the Nation does everything possible to protect and celebrate our culture.
Building a Strong Community
The Gitga’at First Nation has persisted despite some major challenges including Canadian residential schools, a ban on feasting and potlatching (1885-1951), and social welfare legislation that resulted in the removal of Indigenous children from their families, and the threat of regional energy development. Going forward, the Nation is focused on protecting its cultural and natural heritage, while ensuring that new generations can thrive.
Several programs are in place to achieve these objectives including an Indigenous-led environmental monitoring program (the Gitga’at Guardians), local eco-tourism economies, aquaculture, collaborative research with diverse academic communities, and a community newsletter (Amhaw Gitga’at).
Gitk’a’ata leadership welcomes opportunities that support the self-determination of the Gitk’a’ata people. Whether that’s an economic development opportunity or new media literacy programs at the local high school, you are welcome to contact Gitga’at administration with any questions or opportunities.