For Immediate Release


Oct. 2, 2006

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

Ministry of Environment





KITKATLA – The Gitxaala First Nation met today with government officials on Dolphin Island, off the coast of B.C. near Prince Rupert, to sign land use planning and collaborative protected area management agreements as part of the historic Central and North Coast Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs).

Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell and Environment Minister Barry Penner joined Chief Clifford White, band council members and hereditary leaders in the signing ceremony for agreements that will incorporate First Nations’ culture, ecological and economic interests and allow the LRMP process to continue to move forward.

“Land and Resource Management Plans play an important role in the New Relationship between government and First Nations,” said Bell. “We saw an unprecedented level of co-operation in developing the land use decisions for the Central Coast and North Coast. Today, that collaboration continues as we sign these government-to-government agreements and move forward with the framework for completing and implementing Land and Resource Management Plans for this area.”

The government-to-government land use planning agreement outlines zoning for protection and Ecosystem Based Management and establishes the framework for continued implementation of the land and resource management plan for this region. The agreement is consistent with similar land use planning agreements already signed with other First Nations and is in keeping with the historic Central Coast and North Coast land use decisions announced Feb. 7, 2006.

Through the collaborative protected area management agreement, the Gitxaala First Nation and government will work together on conservancy planning, recommendations on economic activities, capacity building, and creating a forum for the parties to discuss issues and interests of common concern.

“This agreement gives us an active role in how and where business is done in our traditional territories,” said Gitxaala First Nations Chief Clifford White. “Equally important is the fact this agreement is built on a spirit of mutual respect, recognition and reconciliation.”

 The combined Central Coast and North Coast Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) areas are approximately 6.4 million hectares, or more than twice the size of Belgium. The total combined protected areas for these regions are approximately 1.8 million hectares, or more than three times the size of Prince Edward Island. The protected areas preserve some of the largest intact temperate rainforests in the world and conserve more than 200,000 hectares of the world-famous Spirit Bear’s habitat.

“One of the innovative features of this agreement is that it deals with all protected areas in the Gitxaala traditional territory at once, rather than park-by-park agreements, which will allow far greater efficiency in collaborative park planning,” said Penner. “The experience and knowledge that First Nations bring to the table will help to ensure the best possible management of these important protected areas.”

The provincial government and First Nations have embarked on developing a New Relationship based on mutual respect and the principles of recognition and reconciliation. Land and resource management plans and the opportunities they provide are an important part of that endeavour.