Traditional Territory

The Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nations Have Lived Here for Thousands of Years

The people of Klemtu hold aboriginal rights and title to the land and resources that encompasses this geographic location of British Columbia's central coast region and a part of what is now called the Great Bear Rainforest.



For over a hundred years the natural resources of the tribal territories of the Kitasoo and Xai'xais were extracted in unsustainable ways, with no compensation provided for the use and occupation by non indigenous people. In 1982, the Kitasoo Indian Band wrote a "Statement of Comprehensive Claim" to explain to Canada and the World who they were, where they live, and to lay claim to the traditional territory of their ancestors. The First Nation Band Government wrote in this claim that...

"Since time immemorial, we the peoples of the Kitasoo Indian Band, situated in what is now called the Province of British Columbia, have been and remain the rightful owners, users and sovereign occupants of our tribal territories.

Our peoples have traditionally used, occupied and exercised jurisdiction over our tribal territories for countless thousands of years. We have never surrendered our tribal territories or jurisdiction through conquest, treaty or any other means to the British Crown or its colonial governments or to the Crown in the right of Canada or to any other government or people.

Nor has this original ownership, occupancy and use by our people and jurisdiction over our tribal territories ever been superseded by law.

 

Therefore, we assert our right and claim to our tribal area... to our land and to its preservation, development and management and to the benefits that have been and may be derived from all resources and development of resources within our tribal territories."

This "Statement of Comprehensive Claim" was presented to the Government of Canada and British Columbia on behalf of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais Band members. In 2000, this was followed up by a "Land and Resource Protection Management Plan" , which explained how the community would look to its heritage for present day decision making.

The Kitasoo effectively regained their rightful control of the land and resources within it.

"Our vision for our land and resources is based on the best definition of the term “sustainable”. To us this means that the wealth of forests, fish, wildlife and the complexity of all life will be here forever. It also means that we will be here forever. To remain here as Kitasoo and Xai'xais people we need to protect and enhance our culture and protect our heritage. We also need to live in the modern world. We need jobs to sustain our families. We need revenue and economic development to sustain our community.

 

We invite other people and governments to work with us to implement the plan but we seek no permission. Our right to implement this plan comes from our aboriginal rights and title and from our connection to this land for thousands of years."

With that claim and land use plan, the Kitasoo effectively regained their rightful control of the land and resources within. This plan also protected 40% of their traditional territory and contained a "Protocol on the Environment", which governed future use and conservation of all the lands and resources for generations to come.

 

These historic steps by the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation Council and Hereditary Chiefs has allowed the community to grow economically for the long term as well as ensure that future generations of this small town in BC's Great Bear Rainforest will benefit from the abundant natural resources, like their ancestors before them.