The Gitga'at Nation are members of the Tsimshian Nation group, known as the "People of the Cane." The Nation's vast territory spans from the mainland to various coastal islands of the lower Douglas Channel, Whale Channel, Wright Sound, and Lewis Pass to Caamano Sound on BC's North and Central Coast.
Gitga'at has roots in the area that go back to time immemorial. The ancestral home of Laxgalts'ap (or "Old Town") is where the Nation spent winters. Old Town is a cultural treasure located in Kitkiata Inlet on the northwest side of the Douglas Channel.
Currently, many Gitga'at members live in Txalgiu (Hartley Bay), with others living in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Vancouver, Victoria and elsewhere. Additionally, the Nation still travels to and stays in historic village sites to harvest and manage resources that include fish and shellfish, seaweed, berries, and a variety of plants with cultural significance and medicinal benefits.
The continued protection of the Nation's lands and waters is of utmost importance for the Gitga'at people. Ensuring these priceless resources are present for future generations guides the Nation's decisions within the territory.
Sustainable Resource Management
Specifically, protecting cultural areas and heritage sites and conserving and sustainably managing marine resources are at centre stage for GFN in a world with increasing climate uncertainty.
The GFN Lands and Oceans Department help protect Gitga'at's natural and cultural resources; they receive funding to continue their vital work. This initiative monitors and manages all activity in GFN territory, including wildlife monitoring and conservation of animals such as bears, salmon, whales, etc.
One challenge facing the Gitga'at people is preserving culture, tradition and territory while embracing the new opportunities from economic development. This requires considering all members' values while pursuing new projects that can benefit the community.
The foundation of GFN social and ceremonial power comes from the customary structure. This is based around the Sm'ooygyet (Real Person), who represents three clans or crest groups: Gispudwada, (Blackfish or Killer Whale), Laxsgiik (Eagle), and Ganhada (Raven). Honouring traditional values is essential, and the Gitga'at First Nation does everything it can to protect and celebrate its culture.
GFN: A Resilient Nation
The Gitga'at First Nation has persisted despite facing residential schools, a ban on feasting and potlatching (1885–1951), the removal of First Nations children from their families, and the issues associated with regional energy projects.
Going forward, the Nation is focused on protecting its cultural and natural resources, preserving them to ensure that present and future generations can thrive. Read more about the Gitga’at First nation on the GFN website: https://www.gitgaatnation.ca/