The view from Shearwater lodge on Denny Island. (Shearwater Marine Ltd. photo)

The view from Shearwater lodge on Denny Island. (Shearwater Marine Ltd. photo)

Heiltsuk Nation buys central coast’s historic Shearwater Resort and Marina

Chief Marilyn Slett said Heiltsuk Nation has always valued its relationship with the company

Heiltsuk Nation is moving ahead with plans to purchase Shearwater Marine Ltd. near Bella Bella on the Central Coast of B.C.

The nation announced Thursday, May 13, it has signed a letter of intent to use some of the funds for the purchase from a reconciliation agreement it signed with the federal government.

Shearwater Co. has been a regional service and supply centre and thriving tourism destination, operating accommodations, a large restaurant and bar, coastal wilderness tours and a famous sport fishing business.

Read more: Feds and Heilstuk First Nation sign $37M reconciliation agreement

“The Heiltsuk Nation is excited to build on the legacy of Shearwater and to welcome guests into our territory in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, when it is safe to do so,” said Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation. “We have always valued the relationship between the Widsten family and our Nation, which has been one of respect and reciprocity.”

Craig Widsten, founder and chairman of Shearwater Marine Group, said the historic agreement is the culmination of a respectful relationship his father established with the Heiltsuk Nation in 1947,

“I personally thank the Heiltsuk Nation for their friendship, mutual respect and cooperation throughout my 53 years at the helm of the Shearwater Marine Group, and I believe this is the right decision at the right time. I am very proud of the service business and legacy that our family has established on the Central Coast and trust that the Heiltsuk Nation will lead the way with confidence and respect for the needs of all stakeholders.”

It is anticipated the purchase will go through by June 20, 2021 following due diligence and an inventory review.

“This agreement is an example of the Haíɫzaqv-made version of how to do reconciliation,” said Hemas Harvey Humchitt Sr., a Hereditary Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “It shows the hard work of our community and joint leadership is paying off, with the acquisition of lands and new businesses, and the creation of economic opportunities for our members.”

On its website, Shearwater Marine Ltd. notes it is located at the site of a former Second World War RCAF base that housed more than 1,000 men and aircraft that patrolled the coast. Andrew Widsten purchased a large portion of the property in 1947.

Andrew was the marine superintendent at Ocean Falls for 20 years, working for Pacific Mills and later Crown Zellerbach.

A former RCAF officer, Andrew knew the importance of setting up a marine service business at the location and for the next 20 years developed the business.

In 1967 Andrew and his wife Jean retired and the Shearwater assets were purchased by their son Craig Widsten, who over the next 50 years guided and nurtured the growth of the family business and surrounding community.

Shearwater is located in the Great Bear Rainforest on the West Coast of B.C. Situated on Denny Island about 450 km north of Vancouver, 3.5km east of Bella Bella and 100 km west of Bella Coola.

The Widstens were a Norwegian family that first settled in Bella Coola in 1894.

Read more: Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years on B.C. central coast



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nations

Just Posted

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read