The Mamalilikulla First Nation declared Nov. 29 Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala1 (Lull Bay/Hoeya Sound) in Knight Inlet, on the British Columbia Central Coast, an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA).
“This IPCA Declaration reflects our intent to take a primary role in the planning, use, management, and restoration of our traditional lands and waters in the Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala area of our territory,” said Mamalilikulla Chief Councillor Winidi (John Powell).
“The area has great significance to our people, and we are taking the initiative to restore our traditional governance approach. It represents a constructive challenge to Canada’s Prime Minister and British Columbia’s Premier of their governments’ commitments to implement the articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” said Chief Powell.
The 10,416 hectare IPCA contains a unique underwater sponge and coral reef of high biodiversity, critical estuaries and salmon-bearing streams. The watersheds are important to many land, sea and sky beings including grizzly bears and eagles, and require careful management of human activity.
A number of historical Mamalilikulla settlements and associated cultural and archaeological sites are found within the IPCA. The Mamalilikulla First Nation has been working with Canada and British Columbia on a co-governed marine protected area, and collaborating with BC on the area’s forest management under the Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order.
“We have never ceded our rights or title over the lands, seas and skies of our traditional territory, and intend to exercise a stronger stewardship role in the IPCA marine areas and watersheds,” said Powell.
“We have developed management plans for the IPCA watersheds and marine areas based on the ancient law of Aweenak’ola, meaning I am one with the Land, the Sea, the Sky and the Supernatural Ones, and making it our responsibility to steward the land, sea and sky, and all beings that exist within them.”