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Central Coast
Regional District

Bella Bella

The Heiltsuk First Nation live in the island village of Bella Bella located 98 nautical miles north of Port Hardy and 78 nautical miles west of Bella Coola. The Heiltsuk traditionally occupied 13,000 square miles of land and sea on B.C.´s coastal Inside Passage. Bella Bella is the name given to Heiltsuk Indian Reserve #1 and is the largest of the 23 reserves set aside in 1913 for the exclusive use of the Heiltsuk. The village located on Campbell Island is amalgamated from all Heiltsuk tribes who occupied numerous large winter and spring villages and associated camp sites spread throughout this traditional territory.
Bella Bella
Bella Bella
Its strategic location on the Inside Passage makes it the major transportation hub for the Central Coast of BC. Bella Bella has a regional airport, BC Ferries terminal, regional hospital, regional RCMP detachment, public dock, grocery store, post office, fuel station, fish plant, forestry company, freight company, cablevision and telecommunications infrastructure, Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) facility as well as a number of bed and breakfast establishments, restaurants and small shops.

There are approximately 1450 residents in Bella Bella, 90% of which are Heiltsuk, 5% are other First Nations, and 5% non-First Nations. The community demographic indicates that Bella Bella has more than 50% of its population under the age of 25. There are approximately 361 homes on reserve lands as well as a Band office, community hall, three schools (elementary, secondary, college), day care center and two churches. It is also within electoral area B in the Central Coast Regional District. A member of the Heiltsuk First Nation sits as one of the five members on the Regional District Board of Directors.

Historically the primary industries for the Heiltsuk economy have been forestry and seasonal fisheries including shellfish, ground fish, herring, salmon and other marine resources. For many decades, Heiltsuk people have had a thriving fishery to rely upon with employment in commercial fishing, fish processing, and a salmon hatchery. Due to dramatic changes in the fishery in the past several years, the entire fishing based economy is now extremely fragile and threatens this traditional way of life. The resource sector provides employment for approximately 27% of the labour force.

Currently the majority of community work involves local governance, education, social service delivery, and health services; in 1996, approximately 51% of the labour force was involved in delivering these services. A number of entrepreneurs have developed home-based grocery stores and traditional Heiltsuk art businesses; the traditional-art cottage
industry is a growth sector worth exploring. Eco-Tourism has also been identified as a business opportunity that is consistent with Heiltsuk traditional values. Transportation of goods and services is a developing opportunity not only for the community of Bella Bella but also for the entire Central Coast region. In 1997 the Heiltsuk conducted a survey that
indicated that 75% of the employable workforce did not have full-time employment.

Basketball is easily the most popular recreational pastime in Bella Bella due to its all-year-round playing season following the construction of Bella Bella´s Wawiskas Community Hall. The men and women travel year-round to numerous tournaments including this year´s 50th annual anniversary of the All-Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert. The Charles Moody Memorial presents its annual tournament locally every January.

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has recently made efforts to separate the operation of its business entities from the political decision process. To that end the Heiltsuk Tribal Council has been in the process of transferring all of its business responsibilities to a Heiltsuk Economic
Development Corporation (HEDC) that will have strict checks and balances to ensure a healthy business environment. Any investment inquiries should be directed to Heiltsuk Tribal Council for referral to the HEDC.

bella coola Heiltsuk Tribal Council
226 Wabalisla St., P.O. Box 880,
Bella Bella B.C., V0T 1Z0.
Ph: (250) 957 2381, Fax# (250) 957 2544.

Marilyn Slett, Chief Councilor
Carmen Hall, Executive Director

chall@heiltsuknation.ca
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