The Mamalilikulla First Nation signed a declaration on Monday designating the Lull Bay/Hoeya Sound in Knight Inlet as an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA).
The event, which took place at the Royal BC Museum, was marked with music and dancing, celebrating the group’s reclamation of the area.
According to the Mamalilikulla First Nation, their origin stories and written records include many references to the IPCA and its history of occupation and use, such as three original Mamalilikulla settlements.
“The significance is number one, it was lost to us and now we have it back,” said John “Winidi” Powell, the Mamalilikulla’s Chief Councillor. “Our ability to be able to lay our laws beside the colonial, federal and provincial laws and come to an understanding that we can work together and that what we save, saves everybody.”
He said the area’s biodiversity is at risk of extinction if not properly and sustainably managed.
“We’re not saying we cannot fish there. We’re not saying we cannot log there. What we’re saying is that we need to do it in a responsible way,” said Powell.
The declaration reflects the Mamalilikulla First Nation’s intent to take a primary role in planning, use, management and restoration of their traditional lands and waters and their desire to work with the provincial and federal governments in protecting and conserving the IPCA.
“We’re all one. And it’s a very complicated web of life. When we disturb one element of it, we disturb it all. So, we want to bring it back to the place where we can help to restore, conserve and protect those areas,” Powell said.
The Mamalilikulla First Nation said the declaration is not only a key moment but a constructive challenge to both Canada and British Columbia to advance reconciliation efforts with the Mamalilikulla and to honour its commitment in working in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.