Heiltsuk Oceans Act

The Great Bear Sea overlaps with the territory of the Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) Nation. Haíɫzaqv people practice a system of governance based on their ǧvi̓ḷás (traditional laws) that have been upheld by their Hereditary Chiefs since time immemorial.

Despite ongoing colonialism and the imposition of the Canadian legal system over Haíɫzaqv peoples and territories, Haíɫzaqv laws have not disappeared. The Haíɫzaqv have fought hard to nurture their laws and reconstitute their legal system.

Given the importance of the ocean to the Haíɫzaqv Nation, their leadership identified the need to have an Oceans Act rooted in their own ğvi̓las. In September 2017 the Haíɫzaqv began working on a RELAW (Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water) project to create a Haíɫzaqv Oceans Act; the first piece of legislation to flow from the forthcoming Haíɫzaqv Constitution.

This legislation, called H̓aíkilaxsi c̓isḷá w̓áw̓áx̌tusa gáyáqḷa qṇts dṃxsax̌v: Respecting and Taking Care of our Ocean Relatives, will uphold Haíɫzaqv marine jurisdiction and governance practices in their territory.

Learn more:

And, to learn more about the RELAW project:


Photo credit: Eugene Kung