Our ties to the homelands are fundamental to our existence as peoples. Our lands are the link to the Creator who came to teach our first ancestors. The ancient recorded teachings tell of the original places we began as distinct peoples. The teachings, upon which our original Constitution is based, tell of how we are to live on the land and seas, how to protect the flora and fauna on our lands, how to govern ourselves, and how we are to thrive as peoples into the distant future with continued ties our culture and heritage. For a millennium we lived our lives in the central coast area in communities that thrived with strong leaders who led our clans using effective governance and laws that unified us as Nations. With strong cultures and systems of education our families developed into the healthy community that sustained us even in times of famine.
Our way of life changed in the 1800’s when new laws were made to establish this new country called Canada. Just prior, colonizers arrived to establish themselves and their laws as set down by English and French rulers. Canada with their new system of government created Indian Reserves and on these reserves laid down new laws under the Indian Act to remove our original laws and our Constitution.
The effect was almost to remove access to land and resources; culture as expressed in our languages; traditional hereditary leadership through replacement with delegated authorities from Ottawa and access to our own homelands through forced relocation to Tsulquate.
Today the younger generations have not even seen the places their parents and grandparents were born and thrived. Our young can only see the small reserve in which they live. Our community has been devastated by the resulting socio- economic-political and cultural impacts. Despite the loss, our leaders and elders continue to strive to regain control over our own lives and re-connect the tie to the homelands.
We have regained some level of control though involvement in various "processes” that promise protection and a greater role on our lands. In the mid 1990’s we began involvement on the Central Coast Land Use Planning process, now called Nanwakolas. In 2007 our community began a process of laying out our vision for the future through the Comprehensive Community Planning process. Two years ago we agreed on settlement of a Tsulquate Relocation Claim and we have an appointed Trust Committee that will facilitate healing for wrongs that have been done in the past.
In 1994 our Chiefs agreed to negotiate a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Treaty to regain control of lands, resources, and laws that will reflect distinct needs for the community and our ties to the homelands.
Today, near completion of stage four of the six stage BC Treaty Process, the Chief Negotiator, the Negotiation Team and staff of the Treaty Office work to prepare negotiation positions, information packages for community meetings and seek necessary training to build capacity for employment requirements of negotiations. After stage four, the community will be asked to vote to continue to pursue a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Treaty. After completion of stage five, which is the finalization of the entire agreement, the community will again be asked to vote on a final Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Treaty Agreement.
On behalf of the GN Treaty negotiation team and staff I want to welcome this Web Site as a great opportunity to present information to community members. We feel that with education and communication about negotiation activities and opportunities, you will learn and become involved in all decisions that will affect you, your family and the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations at large.
Colleen Hemphill, Chief Negotiator