One of the most recent reconciliation meetings covered the topics identified in the Reconciliation Priorities Engagement Report. The report outlines which areas within the Nation members want improvements the most.
A Quick Recap
Throughout the fall and winter of 2022–2023, Eric Anderson and Andreas Krebs collected information from members about their priorities for the reconciliation negotiations. Through an online survey and engagement sessions in Hartley Bay and Prince Rupert, members ranked their priorities.
In total, we received 61 survey responses and 28 meeting participants. The top priorities identified are language and culture, housing, and healthcare.
Top educational priorities for members include learning their language and practicing their culture. Discussion sessions regarding language recognize that there are efforts in Prince Rupert and Hartley Bay schools to teach Sm'algyax to students. However, without an immersion program, students only learn language basics. Language programs must pair fluent speakers with students in an immersive learning experience to preserve the language.
There are three main areas in which members can access culture:
Participating in traditional governance (clans).
Making cultural activities accessible for Gitga'at members who live elsewhere.
Increasing opportunities for Gitga'at members to get on the land.
Committee members are interested in developing a curriculum for younger members to get more involved in the clan system. Those who do not live on-territory would like more opportunities to visit Kiel and participate in cultural events—building community cabins around the territory may help strengthen claims to the territory. Members also mentioned activities like harvesting, cedar pulling, and weaving are essential to develop and make available to members through workshops.
Members need safe, clean, affordable, and accessible housing. There are needs for rental housing and elders' housing, and other members need assistance to buy or maintain their own homes.
Hartley Bay needs more housing for families, single people, and visitors. Constructing new homes is costly, so proposed solutions include new ideas—including shipping container houses. Engagement sessions showed support for Gitga'at-owned rental housing in Prince Rupert—offering housing to member or non-Gitga'at tenants. Developing a rental subsidy is also an option to lessen the stress of the current market.
Another idea to make housing more accessible is creating a policy for members to access financial assistance for a down payment on a home to increase the number of members who own their homes.
The largest healthcare priority for members is mental health and wellness, followed by addiction services and primary healthcare in the community. Engagement sessions with members raised topics such as the importance of holistic approaches to healthcare, access to healthcare programs in the territory, and ensuring elders can access the healthcare services they need.
Learn More About Community Priorities
Now that we have identified the Nation's priorities based on member feedback, we can start looking at ways to address these issues. The team incorporated these results into current negotiations with BC and Canada, and the data has influenced the reconciliation framework agreement.
The Reconciliation Priorities Engagement Report covers additional topics, including economic development, fisheries, title/land, natural resources, governance, and recreation.
You can access the full report here.