For Gitga’at First Nation, Reconciliation with the Crown has been a long process. Having participated in the modern treaty process, Gitga’at First Nation, Canada, and British Columbia are now focused on negotiating Reconciliation Agreements that recognize Aboriginal title from the outset. These agreements offer a new path for how First Nations, the province, and federal governments can reconcile their claims and rights. Unlike the previous modern treaty process, this new approach does not result in the extinguishment of First Nations’ rights or claims on the territory.
In 2021, Gitga’at First Nation turned to Resonant Strategic to develop an engagement strategy for their membership. The goal was clear: to ensure that their priorities and values would be at the forefront of the Reconciliation Agreements under negotiation.
Resonant Strategic embarked on a collaborative journey with Gitga’at First Nation, beginning with forming a Reconciliation Advisory Committee. Comprising elected and hereditary leadership, youth, Elders, and representatives from their home community of Hartley Bay, as well as other key locations like Vancouver and Prince Rupert, this committee continues to play a pivotal role in the engagement process.
Our solutions encompassed:
- Comprehensive Engagement: We produced a series of informational materials and facilitated engagement processes to ensure that the priorities and values of Gitga’at First Nation’s membership were at the core of the Reconciliation negotiations.
- Priorities Engagement Report: The first round of engagement culminated in a “What We Heard Report” that highlighted Gitga’at First Nation’s priorities. This report served as an essential document and directly influenced the negotiation process.
- Ongoing Support: As Gitga’at First Nation builds up its capacity for self-government, Resonant continues its work. We focus on developing processes to enhance decision-making, align different decision-making bodies, and harmonize hereditary and elected decision-making systems.
The collaborative efforts between Gitga’at First Nation and Resonant Strategic bore fruit:
- Community-Centric Priorities: Gitga’at First Nation’s priorities and values took centre stage in the Reconciliation Agreements, ensuring they truly reflected the community’s aspirations.
- Negotiation Impact: The “What We Heard Report” directly influenced the terms of the Reconciliation Framework Agreement, aligning them with the membership’s priorities.
- Towards Self-Government: As Gitga’at First Nation embarks on the path towards self-government, they are poised to take greater jurisdiction over their territories, develop conflict resolution mechanisms, and soon, create their own laws—a journey that promises a brighter, more empowered future.