OCEANS & LANDS
Protecting Oceans & Lands While Preserving Culture & Tradition
G.O.L.D. stands for the GItga’at Oceans and Lands Department. The organization’s mandate is to plan, coordinate, and manage activities related to the protection, stewardship, and sustainable use of the Nation’s natural resources including lands and oceans. Merging traditional values and culture with modern natural resource practices can be challenging, but the GOLD team receives plenty of input from the Gitga’at Leadership Council. This ensures that preservation practices align with the Nation’s values.
The Gitga’at Marine Use Plan (Gitga’at MUP) dictates how marine and intertidal areas are used by the community and others. The plan was created by Gitga’at Chiefs, elected Councillors, stewardship staff, and others with a focus on preservation. Several zoning and management strategies are contained in the plan that influence how ecosystems and natural resources should be managed and used.
The GFN operates a hatchery that is used to enhance local salmon stocks and ensure the sustainability of this important ocean food resource. School kids are shown how everything works including harvesting fish and eggs, plus the release of juvenile salmon into waterways. The hatchery has its own manager and staff to ensure that dedicated resources are allocated to this preservation activity.
The Gitga’at Marine Emergency Rescue and Research Facility (MERRF) in Hartley Bay enables the Nation to conduct world-class research and monitoring programs, improve marine safety and response capabilities, and ensure members are able to live and work in their home community.
The Gitga’at Guardians is a program that serves as the eyes and ears of the Nation on our waters. Its purpose is to enable several research and monitoring activities that ensure food security, ecological health, and community well-being. Whether it’s terrestrial and marine mammal populations, toxin levels, or the health of local food resources, this program enables us to keep tabs on what’s going on in local waters.
Development and Referrals
The GFN is open to resource development and transportation within our territory — providing it supports local economic development, aligns with the Nation’s values, and meets our high environmental standards. Gitga’at leaders including elected Council and designated officers make these decisions, and both traditional knowledge and Elders are consulted and considered.
The Gitga’at First Nation asserts unextinguished Aboriginal rights and title within its Territory, and this understanding must underpin any proposed projects in our lands and waters.
The Gitga’at First Nation has been based on the lands and waters of Txalgiuw (Hartley Bay) for millennia. The natural resources within our territory are integrated with our culture and traditions and have supplied sustenance to the community. They are to be protected. Here are some of the programs we have in place with this aim in mind.
For working adults finding quality, affordable childcare can be difficult. That’s why the provincial government is providing funding for the construction of a brand new dedicated childcare centre in Hartley Bay under the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund.
M.E.R.R.F. stands for the Gitga’at Marine Emergency Rescue and Research Facility. The building is the result of a collaboration between GFN and LNG Canada to improve marine research and response capabilities in the area.
Malsey Bay Trail
The Malsey Bay Destination Trail is a multi-use trail with educational signage designed for foot and machine access (walking, hiking, ATV, or cart). It’s based on an existing 1.6-kilometer trail originally constructed in the 1970s that had become unsafe and needed renovation.
The path links up to a campground at the end of the trail that features a picnic area and raised wooden tent pads. The space will be used for gatherings of all types including school field trips, picnics, feasts, and more.
Mitigation of Risks to Hartley Bay Water Supply
Climate change is impacting the Gitga’at territory in unexpected ways. One concern is for water security. Because the watershed is totally dependent on precipitation without any glacial runoff, dry periods can lead to water shortages. The Mitigation of Risks to Hartley Bay Water Supply project will construct a road to the Upper Gabion Lake in order to construct a weir that will raise the water level in the lake and allow GFN to be able to ensure constant adequate water supply even in dry periods.
Sewer line repairs
Sewage lines are currently being repaired to ensure the Nation’s infrastructure is well maintained and up to date. Investments such as this ensure the safe, continual operation of local wastewater treatment capabilities.
As important infrastructure — such as roads and boardwalks — age they must be repaired and/or replaced. A unique challenge in the remote community of Hartley Bay is that materials must be brought in by barge, thus increasing costs. The GFN is actively looking at roads and paths that need improvement and will be completing these projects in the months and years ahead.
The Gitga’at people are currently examining how to maintain strong ancestral ties to lands and waters while addressing the climate change emergency.
A project called the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP) is examining the risks and challenges brought about by climate change to help communities become more resilient. The main question is how the effects of climate change will influence the Nation’s way of life, and continued work will be required to gain more understanding of this crucial topic.